Thursday, October 12, 2006

LDS Senate Minority Leader takes on polygamy

Sen. Reid Asks for Polygamy Task Force

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 12, 2006; 11:31 PM

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The U.S. Senate's top Democrat called Tuesday for
a federal investigation into the activities of polygamists in Western

Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a letter to U.S. Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales that a task force should be formed to look
into interstate activities of polygamists. He also asked the Justice
Department to help state prosecutors dealing with polygamist sect
leader Warren Jeffs.

"For too long, this outrageous activity has been disguised in the mask
of religious freedom," Reid said. "But child abuse and human servitude
have nothing to do with religious freedom and must not be tolerated."

Reid, a Mormon, added that Jeffs is part of a sect that broke away
from the Mormon Church more than a century ago and has been disavowed
by leaders and mainstream members of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints.

A reporter's call to the Justice Department's after-hours command
center was transferred to the department's press office, where there
was no answer.

Jeffs, 50, is charged with two felony counts of rape as an accomplice,
accused of arranging a "spiritual marriage" between an underage girl
and an older man. Each count carries a penalty of five years to life
in prison.

The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints was arrested Aug. 28 by the Nevada Highway Patrol during a
traffic stop and is being held without bail. He had been on the run
for about a year-and-a-half when he was arrested.

Besides the Utah charges, Jeffs is facing two felony charges in Mohave
County, Ariz., for a similarly arranged marriage involving an underage
girl. He is expected to be prosecuted there after Utah proceedings
have concluded.

Polygamist communities have tended to gather in remote areas of the
West, where they can avoid the attention of authorities and larger
society more easily. Plural marriage is illegal in all 50 states, but
authorities have found it difficult to find witnesses who will come
forward and enable them to prosecute.
(c) 2006 The Associated Press

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