FLDS man charged with rape may have plea deal in works

Published: Thursday, Feb. 17 2011 3:23 p.m. MST

ST. GEORGE — A man whose spiritual marriage to a 14-year-old cousin and subsequent rape charge led to the prosecution of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs may get to resolve his case.

A "tentative" plea deal is believed to be in the works for Allen Glade Steed, who was charged with rape, a first-degree felony, in 2007. Steed, now 29, was married in 2001 to his then-14-year-old cousin Elissa Wall in a spiritual wedding ceremony.

Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, presided over the marriage and advised the girl to give herself "mind, body and soul and obey without question," court documents state. Wall, who is now an adult, testified in court that she had expressed concerns before the union, stating that she felt she was too young for marriage and that she wished to marry someone other than her cousin.

She said Jeffs and other family members told her before her marriage, and after, to obey the prophet and her husband.

Wall's attorney, Roger Hoole, said Thursday that Wall is not opposed to a plea deal.

"She has always maintained that Allen Steed was both a victim of the FLDS Church and a perpetrator because he would never have illegally married her or had sexual relations with her if he hadn't been commanded to do that," Hoole said.

He said there were still "a couple of things that need to be worked out" before the potential plea would get Wall's approval, but declined to specify what those things are.

"It's a little tentative right now, but if we work out some last little things, it will be appropriate," Hoole said.

Washington County prosecutor Brock Belnap confirmed that a resolution hearing was scheduled in Steed's case for Friday.

Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham previously declined to dismiss the case despite arguments from Steed's attorneys that the statute of limitations on the claim had run out.

Jeffs, who is viewed as the leader of the Utah-based polygamous sect, was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life in prison on two counts of accomplice to rape for presiding over the spiritual marriage of Wall and Steed, who was 19 years old at the time.

Jeffs' conviction, however, was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court in July of 2010 on the grounds that a jury instruction erroneously focused the jury on Jeffs' relationship with Wall rather than Steed's relationship with the girl. The trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury that Jeffs could not be found guilty as an accomplice to rape unless Jeffs specifically intended for Steed to have non-consensual sex with Wall.

Jeffs has since been extradited to Texas to face various charges there. 

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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