Ex-Polygamist Bishop Sentenced to 10 Years for Illegally Marrying Warren Jeffs to Young Girl
A former polygamist bishop was sentenced today to the maximum 10 years in prison for marrying polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs to a 12-year-old girl.
A Coke County, Texas, jury convicted Fredrick Merrill Jessop, 75, of the third degree felony offense of conducting an illegal wedding ceremony in 2006 between the then 50-year-old Jeffs and the underage girl.
The San Angelo Standard Times reported that jurors deliberated for only an hour after closing arguments ended before announcing their verdict.
In addition to the prison sentence, Jessop was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
Witnesses testified that Jessop also allegedly had 22 wives, married 11 daughters and two granddaughters to Jeffs, and participated in 16 underage marriages, according to the Times.
Jeffs, the former leader of a radical polygamist sect of Mormonism known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS), is serving a life sentence for sexual assault, after being convicted of forcing two teenage girls into “spiritual marriage” — one being the 12-year-old Jessop married him to — and fathering a child with the other when she was 15.
Jeffs is now 55.
According to court documents, the illegal wedding ceremony took place on July 27, 2006, at the Yearning For Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, which is owned by Jeffs’ organization.
Associated Press and ABC News’ Christina Caron contributed to this report.