Judge Orders Redaction of Documents in Polygamist’s Sexual Abuse Case

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Eldorado, TX—A judge presiding over the hearing of polygamist and accused child abuser Raymond Jessop has ordered that some documents be redacted.

The document in question shows that Jessop, 38, had four or more wives who were either nursing or pregnant at the same time. District Judge Barbara Walther ruled that this document, as well as others which proved his multiple marriages, not be shown to the jury in this trial.

Raymond Jessup is currently on trial for sexual assault of a child in the case of one of his wives, who was allegedly 15 at the time of the marriage and gave birth to Jessop’s baby at the age of 16. Jessop will stand trial later on bigamy charges, at which point documentation of his multiple marriages may be more germane and therefore admissible at trial.

Walther recommended that a list, removed from the records at the Yearning for Zion Ranch, of which Jessop was a member, should be redacted in order to conceal the names of other families, as well as other alleged wives who were either pregnant or breastfeeding at the time when the alleged victim gave birth, in 2005.

Authorities raided the YFZ ranch in April 2008, removing more than 400 children and placing them in foster care. The children have been returned to parents or other relatives, but a large amount of documentation, as well as results from DNA tests, have been used as building blocks in the criminal cases against 12 men. Jessop is the first to go to trial.

Also disallowed at trial will be dictations given by Warren Jeffs that do not concern Jessop and the alleged victim. Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who is currently serving prison time for being an accomplice to rape, is considered a prophet by other sect members. He has made many recordings discussing religious teachings and orders about the YFZ Ranch.

Other controversial documents, which the judge did not immediately rule, include photos of alleged wives standing next to Jessop and church marriage certificates which show that Jessop was married on the same day to both the alleged victim and another woman. The child sexual abuse case hinges on whether or not Jessop was legally married to the girl, who is now 21.

The Fundamentalist Church broke away from the centuries-old Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which neither condones polygamy nor recognizes the sect.

Jessop has pleaded not guilty. If he is convicted of the sexual assault of a child, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

 

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