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The conviction of a polygamist serving 17 years in prison for sexual assault of a child was upheld in a Texas court Thursday.
Abram Harker Jeffs, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who had lived at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, appealed the 2010 conviction, but the decision was upheld in the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Austin on Thursday.
According to court documents, Jeffs raised 13 points that he believed were errors in his case. He said that the state had insufficient evidence to prove that a sexual relationship had occurred between him and his wife, whom he married when she was 14 years old. The girl gave birth to a son when she was 16, and DNA tests prove that Jeffs is the biological father.
However, Jeffs said in the court documents that this alone does not prove sexual relations, and that artificial insemination could have been used.
The district judge ruled that the circumstantial evidence that the couple were united in a marriage ceremony, lived as a married couple and gave birth to a son was enough to establish that a sexual relationship occurred.
Among other errors, Jeffs also said the state was unable to prove that a sexual relationship occurred while in Texas. It was ruled that circumstantial evidence again weighed in favor of the state, because the couple lived together in Texas prior to, during and after the birth of their child.
Jeffs is one of 10 members of the FLDS church who were living at the ranch who have been indicted for sexual assault of a child.