SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A plea deal could be in the works for the southern Utah man whose “spiritual marriage” to an underage girl was the basis for Utah’s criminal prosecution of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs.
Defense attorney Jim Bradshaw says he’s been in discussions with Washington County prosecutors about a plea agreement for Allen Glade Steed.
Steed is scheduled for a resolution hearing Friday before 5th District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham in St. George.
A member of Jeff’s Fundamentalist Church, Steed was charged with first-degree felony rape in September 2007 –one day after a jury found Jeffs guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in Steed’s marriage to Elissa Wall. If convicted of the charge, Steed could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Steed was 19 and Wall just 14 when their marriage was arranged by FLDS church leaders.
Jeffs performed the religious marriage ceremony in a Caliente, Nev., motel and later counseled Wall to be obedient and give herself to her husband “mind, body and soul” in order to make an unhappy marriage work.
Washington County prosecutors used the marriage as the basis for filing criminal charges of rape as an accomplice against Jeffs in 2006.
During the trial and later in her book, “Stolen Innocence,” Wall said she objected to the marriage and was forced into sexual relations with her husband.
The Associated Press does not typically name victims of alleged sexual assault, but Wall has frequently spoken publicly about the case and published the book about her experiences.
Steed, now 29, testified on Jeffs’ behalf at the trial, saying his sexual relationship with Wall was never forced.
Last year the Utah Supreme Court overturned Jeffs’ convictions on appeal citing faulty jury instructions and ordered a new trial. State prosecutors sought a rehearing, but were denied and have not yet decided whether to retry the church leader.
Steed’s case has lagged while prosecutors and defense attorneys haggled over its details, including whether or not the statute of limitations on the alleged crime had expired even before the case was filed.
Steed and Wall were married April 23, 2001. Wall reported the alleged crime to police and prosecutors in January 2006, after filing a multimillion civil lawsuit against Jeffs and negotiating an agreement with prosecutors that dictated how the information would be used.
Steed and Wall were granted an FLDS church divorce, known as a release, in 2004, after Wall became pregnant with another man’s child. She has since left the faith.
Steed remains a member of the church.
Jeffs was extradited to Texas in November to stand trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and bigamy. Texas prosecutors say Jeffs had sex with two children, one under age 14 and the other under age 17. The allegations stem from information in church records seized by authorities during a 2008 raid on a church-run ranch near Eldorado.
Federal prosecutors also have a fugitive charge pending against Jeffs. It stems from a 16-month period when Jeffs was considered a fugitive and was listed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Jeffs was arrested in August in a Las Vegas traffic stop.
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