Warren Jeffs: A Charismatic Cult Leader
Warren Jeffs was the President and Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS Church), a polygamist sect of Mormonism. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree felony child sexual assault in 2011 and is currently serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.
Jeffs was born in 1955 to Rulon Jeffs, the then-President of the FLDS Church, and his 24th wife. He was raised in the FLDS community in Colorado City, Arizona, and from a young age was groomed to take over his father’s role as leader of the church.
Jeffs was a charismatic and intelligent man, and he quickly rose through the ranks of the FLDS Church. In 1986, he was appointed as the church’s “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” making him the second-in-command to his father. After his father’s death in 2002, Jeffs became the President and Prophet of the FLDS Church.
As leader of the FLDS Church, Jeffs ruled with an iron fist. He dictated every aspect of his followers’ lives, from their marriages and sexual relationships to their dress and grooming. He also enforced strict rules on education, employment, and travel.
Jeffs was a polygamist, and he had at least 78 wives, some of whom were underage girls. He also fathered at least 65 children. Jeffs’ marriages and sexual relationships with underage girls were a major source of controversy, and he was eventually convicted of two counts of first-degree felony child sexual assault.
Jeffs was arrested in 2006 and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and bigamy. He was extradited to Utah in 2007, where he was tried and convicted of two counts of first-degree felony child sexual assault. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jeffs is a controversial figure, and his legacy is likely to be debated for years to come. Some people see him as a religious leader who was wrongly convicted of crimes he did not commit. Others see him as a child rapist and a cult leader who abused his power. Regardless of how one views him, there is no doubt that Warren Jeffs was a complex and fascinating figure.
- Jessop, Rebecca. (2013). Escape from Polygamy: My Life in the Fundamentalist LDS Church. New York: Broadway Books.
- Krakauer, Jon. (2003). Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. New York: Anchor Books.
- Wright, Stuart A. (2011). Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalist Mormons. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.