A former Ogden woman convicted of sexually abusing children has testified that she pleaded guilty to crimes she did not commit on the orders of cult leader Arvin Shreeve.
Sharon Kapp, who is serving a minimum 10-year term at the Utah State Prison, said she originally agreed to be a "scapegoat" to take the pressure off other members of Shreeve's so-called "Zion Society."She said during a 2nd District Court hearing Friday that she has since abandoned beliefs she shared with the Shreeve cult.
Shreeve is serving a 20-year prison term after pleading guilty to sexual child abuse crimes in December 1990. He will not be eligible for parole until the year 2012.
Kapp appeared Friday for the first round of hearings in which she seeks to overturn her February 1992 pleas of guilty to charges of child sodomy and attempted aggravated sexual child abuse, both first-degree felonies; child sexual abuse, a second-degree felony; and dealing in materials harmful to a minor, a third-degree felony.
If her writ of habeas corpus is denied by 2nd District Judge Michael Glasmann, Kapp will spend at least seven more years in prison.
If it is granted, Kapp's guilty pleas will be voided. She could be retried on the original child sex abuse charges as well as other charges the prosecution agreed not to file as part of a plea bargain.
Friday, Glasmann heard from Kapp, her brother, sister and former defense attorney.
The judge continued the hearing until May 5 so prosecutors can review a psychological analysis of the woman and her state of mind at the time she entered the guilty pleas.
Kapp's attorney, James Brad-shaw, told the court that Kapp was not emotionally competent to enter the guilty pleas because of her mental condition and the influence of the charismatic Shreeve.
The pleas also should be overturned because Kapp did not get effective counsel from her defense attorney, Ogden lawyer Robert Froerer, who should have realized she wasn't competent, Bradshaw said.
Kathleen Blacker of Brigham City, Kapp's oldest sister, testified her sister changed radically at the time she became involved with the Shreeve group. She said her sister suddenly lost weight, began wearing dresses all the time, changed her hair color and became emotionally remote.
After police raided the cult in August 1991, Blacker said she became convinced her sister had not committed the sexual crimes and was only pleading guilty at the bidding of Shreeve.
Ken Kapp, her brother, said his sister had pleaded guilty so that her daughter and other children in the Shreeve group would not be subjected to the trauma of testifying in court.
After about a year in prison, Kapp said she developed new perspectives that helped her see she had been deceived by Shreeve.