As a follow-up to the previous post on the latest in the Warren Jeffs saga, it appears that Jeffs attempted to hang himself while imprisoned in Purgatory Correctional Facility in January. Brooke Adams of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that despite a motion opposing their release, court documents released today reveal that shortly after Jeffs’s confession to his brother that he was not a Prophet in January, he attempted suicide. The new documents also explain that Jeffs admitted that William E. Jessop was the rightful FLDS prophet and that he had usurped the position.
Fifth District Judge James L. Shumate explained that he didn’t release the documents until now so as to ensure that Jeffs would get a fair trial in Utah. In reference to whether the records will hurt Jeffs’s chances of a fair trial in Arizona, Shumate said “We were successful here in picking a jury and there is no question it can be done in Mohave County.”
All court filings are available here.
Rumors have floated around since earlier this year that Warren Jeffs had renounced his role as Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that he had not held the FLDS priesthood since he was twenty years old. Court documents containing these allegations had been sealed so as not to influence jurors in his recent trial, but the judge recently reversed this decision and released the documents. Jeffs recanted these confessions in February of this year.
Salt Lake Tribune correspondent Brooke Adams reports that the documents reveal not only that Jeffs did make these statements, but that additionally he confessed that as a 20-year old he had been immoral with a sister and a daughter. He indicated that he had not held the FLDS priesthood since that time. With these confessions in place, it raises additional questions concerning allegations that Jeffs also had inappropriate relations with his nephews.
I’m not sure what effect the documents will have on the FLDS community. As long as the allegations remained in the status of rumors, they were easy to dismiss. Now that they’re publicly available from a reliable source, I can’t imagine that this will help his image among his followers, much less among those outside his community.
Note: I’ve you’re wondering about the euphemisms, they’re so this site doesn’t get blocked at the Church Office Building.