Raymond Jessop, the first of a dozen members of the Fundamentalist Morman sect living at the Yearning for Zion Ranch set to stand trial, was convicted yesterday of sexually assaulting an underage girl. The sect claims that the young woman, who was 16 when she became pregnant with her first child, was one of Jessop's nine wives, though internal documents indicated that they were aware of the illegality of the situation:
One of the most damning pieces of evidence presented in court was a written record of [sect leader Warren Jeffs’s ] instructions in August 2005 not to take the girl to a hospital even though she had been struggling in labor for three days at a clinic on the ranch. “I knew the girl, being 16 years old, if she went to the hospital, they could put Raymond Jessop in jeopardy of prosecution as the government is looking for any reason to come against us there,” Mr. Jeffs was quoted as saying.
It took the jury only two hours and twenty minutes to convict Jessop.