This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
ST. GEORGE - Faithful followers of polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs gave jurors another view of their religion Tuesday, saying it is based on love and kindness, makes women partners in marriage and gives them ultimate say in sexual matters.
Women are taught to be obedient to a husband only as long as he lives righteously, the nine witnesses said.
"We were taught there is no force in the Celestial Kingdom," said Margaret Thomas, 31. ''If we want to be there, we have to be there by our own choice."
The sect members testified about their courtships, marriages, intimate relations and counsel they received from Jeffs when difficulties arose.
They described experiences with him that differed vastly from those of Jane Doe, the state's key witness in its accomplice-to-rape case against Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The defense will call additional witnesses today and expects to finish its case on Friday.
Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors rested their case against Jeffs, who is charged with two counts related to Doe's 2001 marriage. At the time, she was 14; her husband was 19.
Jane Doe, now 21, has testified she objected to the marriage and to having sexual relations with her husband but said she was trapped by religious and social repercussions.
As their final evidence, prosecutors played a recording of an April 2002 church talk given by sect member Sam Barlow, warning of a coming conflict with authorities over polygamy. A transcript is available at http://www.sltrib.com/polygamy, titled "The FLDS Battle for Plural Marriage."
Defense attorney Walter F. Bugden asked 5th District Judge James L. Shumate to dismiss the charges, saying prosecutors had not proved their case. Shumate ruled there is sufficient evidence for the jury to consider the charges.
Prosecutors drew distinctions between the defense witnesses' experiences and Doe's life. None of the defense witnesses was 14 when they married or married a first cousin. The state also said they didn't experience the pressure Doe felt, due to her stepfather's position as second counselor in the faith, to proceed with an unwanted marriage and, unlike Doe, they wanted to get married.
The defense relied on its witnesses to show Doe's experience was contrary to their own experiences with Jeffs and the previous prophet, and their understanding of FLDS principles.
The women who testified said that, at their own request, they married in their teens or early 20s. They were asked by then-prophet Rulon T. Jeffs if they had anyone in mind; two said they did, while the others left the selection of a husband up to him.
"You have perfect confidence he will place you right in marriage," said Joanna Keate, 25.
After they asked to be married, some of the witnesses wed as soon as 10 minutes later, but others waited as long as three years, as did Charlotte "Anna" Jessop - beginning when she was 17.
Jessop, a pharmacy technician, said she became a plural wife in 2003 of Paul Stanley Jessop, who was 47.
Keate married weeks later, in a ceremony conducted by Warren Jeffs at his father's request. She and her husband John met shortly before the wedding.
Courtship came afterward, the witnesses said. There was no time frame in which they were expected to consummate their marriages - and it was up to the women to indicate when they were ready for intimacy.
For some, that came within a week; more typically, it took months or, in one case, a couple of years. "It takes time to get to know your husband," said Thomas, who married 11 years ago. All of the women said it took time to become comfortable with intimacy after growing up in a faith that calls for limited contact with males and strict sexual abstinence - no flirting, dating, or touching before marriage.
The witnesses interpreted the marriage vow instruction to "go forth and multiply and replenish the earth" as permission to become sexually intimate, not a demand that it happen immediately.
"There is no timetable for that," Keneth "Ben" Thomas said of having children. "It is whatever the husband and wife decide."
The FLDS, most of whom live in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., believe sexual intimacy should only occur for the purpose of procreation.
Keate said she was "determined I wasn't going to have children until I loved my husband."
That took a couple of years, she said. At first, their relationship was obviously strained and Jeffs called them in for a meeting.
He asked if they were "coming together physically" and told the couple it would "come in its own time," Keate said. He advised them to spend more time together doing things each liked.
Keate married six years ago - the same year as Doe, with whom she was friends. They commiserated about their marriage difficulties, she said.
The men who testified told the jury the FLDS faith teaches members they "have no right to force anything on anybody" and are to exercise "persuasion through love."
Thomas described his wife as a partner and help mate, saying they jointly make decisions in their lives.
Asked if a husband had the right to demand anything he wanted from his wife, 26-year-old Jennie Pipkin answered: "No, that would be hypocritical. What if he wanted to go psycho or something?"
After having five children with her husband, Pipkin said, she wanted a break due to health problems and told him so.
"I was serious. I told him he couldn't hug, kiss or touch me at all," said Pipkin, who owns her own Web design and marketing business.
When he continued to nag her, Pipkin searched scriptures and the faith's teachings for a way to handle the unwanted advances. She found a lesson given by Jeffs in 1999 that "flipped" her mind-set because it said sexual relations were to be at the woman's invitation.
"I felt empowered by his statement that I was to be in charge," she said.
But eventually, she contacted Jeffs and asked to be released - the FLDS term for divorce - from her husband. Two months later, Jeffs granted her request.
"I felt like I had the prophet on my side," Pipkin said. "I turned to him and he responded."