Judge Denies Warren Jeffs' Request; Trial Moves Forward


Jeffs' Grip on Followers Still Firm

Even as Jeffs' trial begins, he is believed to still have a firm grip on the sect and the lives of thousands of his followers, including the women he stands accused of assaulting.

"They will always continue to believe him until he dies or something else happens," Wall said. "It goes against their religion and their entire faith to denounce him."

Jeffs' followers see him as a prophet who serves as God's spokesman on earth. The sect Jeffs leads broke off from the mainstream Mormon Church 72 years ago.

As prophet, Jeffs paired the community's girls and women with the men he said God told him in revelations were meant to be married. Sect teachings emphasize that young girls and women are to be obedient to their husbands and serve them "mind, body and soul" to achieve salvation in the afterlife.

Two Texas sheriffs confirmed to ABC News that Jeffs spent $23,000 on phone cards in five months, leading to beliefs he is still in complete control of the church. The sheriff officials said they believe Jeffs is "directing" church members over the phone.

Both alleged victims in the case along with 76 other women have been called to testify.

"These people will not testify unless they are apprehended by law enforcement and dragged kicking and screaming into court," Mike Watkiss, a reporter with Arizona news network KTVK, told ABC News.

Local news affiliates report that hundreds of people still live at the Texas ranch and construction crews continue to work on buildings on the $110 million property, including a four-story limestone temple.

"I don't think his incarceration has in anyway diminished his status," Watkiss said. "It has elevated his status because it has made him a martyr for the cause."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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