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As defense attorneys sort through more than a billion pages of evidence, a former high-ranking polygamous sect bishop got a new attorney and trial date in a West Texas hearing Thursday.
Fredrick Merril Jessop, 75, is now represented by San Angelo attorney Rae Leifeste, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported.
Jessop is charged with conducting a ceremony prohibited by law connected to an alleged 2006 spiritual union of an underage girl with 55-year-old Warren S. Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In April, Jessop's attorneys asked for more time to work on his case, citing the electronic equivalent of some 1.7 billion pages of materials seized by authorities.
Jessop was the bishop at the group's Yearning for Zion Ranch when Texas authorities raided it in 2008. They took more than 400 children into protective custody though they were later returned to their parents and seized thousands of boxes of evidence. It was used to indict 12 men, including Jeffs and Jessop. Seven of those men have been found guilty or entered pleas; five are awaiting trial.
Jessop is also the ex-husband of Carolyn Jessop, who in 2007 wrote a best-selling book, Escape, chronicling her life within the sect and departure from it. She was his fourth wife. A Texas court ordered Jessop to pay her nearly $150,000 in child support in August, the Standard-Times reported.
Jessop was excommunicated from the FLDS earlier this year, according to former members. He was one of more than 30 men cast out by Jeffs from his Texas jail cell, where he is awaiting trial on sexual assault and bigamy charges connected with two alleged spiritual underage marriages.
Jessop's next pretrial hearing was scheduled for June 27 in Schleicher County, and a trial date was set for Oct. 31.