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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 23:19 GMT
US polygamy sect leader sentenced
Picture of Warren Jeffs taken after his arrest by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Warren Jeffs led the breakaway Mormon sect from 2002
A US polygamist sect leader has been sentenced to 10 years to life in jail as an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her cousin.

A Utah court said the state board of pardons would ultimately determine how much time Warren Jeffs would serve.

The 51-year-old was jailed for at least five years on two counts, with the sentences to be served consecutively.

The self-proclaimed prophet was found guilty in September of encouraging the girl to have sex against her will.

He spent 15 months on the run before his arrest in August 2006.

Jeffs was the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The sect split from the Mormon Church after it renounced polygamy.

He went into hiding after being charged in Arizona with being an accomplice to incest and sexual misconduct for allegedly arranging marriages between minors and older men.

FBI Ten Most Wanted poster for Warren Jeffs
Warren Jeffs was on the FBI's most wanted while on the run
At the time of his arrest he was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

A jury convicted Jeffs of orchestrating the girl's marriage to her 19-year-old cousin in 2001 and encouraging her to have sex by telling her she would go to hell if she did not.

Allen Steed, who has not been charged with any offence, testified that his wife had initiated their first sexual encounter.

Under Utah law a 14-year-old can consent to sex, but not if they are enticed by someone at least three years older.

Church under pressure

Jeffs, who is reputed to have 70 wives, took over the leadership of the FLDS church after his father, Rulon, died in 2002.

New church built at the FLDS's compound in Texas
An estimated 40,000 people in the US still believe in polygamy
The 10,000-strong sect dominates the towns of Colorado City, in Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, less than a mile away. A compound in Eldorado, Texas, is also home to a growing community.

Members believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven. Women are taught that their path to heaven depends on being subservient to their husband.

Polygamy is illegal in the US, but the authorities have reportedly been reluctant to confront the FLDS for fear of sparking a tragedy similar to the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, which led to the deaths of about 80 members.

However, observers say the church is coming under increasing pressure from authorities in Utah and Arizona.

Jeffs: 'I have been deceived by the powers of evil'

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