Warren Jeffs, president of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ, defended charges of sexual assault and polygamy against him, calling it a law set out by God, during his trial in Texas on Friday.
It was a “spiritual” marriage bond with two underage girls, he said.
“If we do not live these laws we are damned here and hereafter. We believe in a marriage system of eternity called celestial marriage, wherein celestial means heavenly authorized, not to be intervened by government intervention,” Jeffs said.
The 55-year old is facing trial for sexually assaulting the two minors, aged 17 and 12 in 2005, whom he later married forcefully.
In 2007, the U.S. polygamist sect leader of the Southern Utah-based church that practices polygamy was found guilty and was sentenced to ten years to imprisonment but the conviction was later overturned.
A raid of fundamentalist Church-owned community Yearning for Zion Ranch in 2008 revealed that several teenage girls were forced into “spiritual marriage” with much older men who fathered children with them.
The 1,700-acre ranch built under the supervision of Jeff in 2004 was found with many “heavily pregnant” young girls in the raid, which further led to his and another 11 members’ arrest. Jeff was convicted for arranging a marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin.
Jeff defended church’s practices and objected the raid in church’s compound by delivering a message from God.
“You are now touching that which is sacred. Thus on these grounds we call upon this court to render justice before sacred trust is trampled upon,” he concluded.