ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) – A sheriff’s investigator acknowledged Thursday that a criminal probe of a polygamist leader accused of forcing a 14-year-old to marry her older cousin grew out of the young woman’s multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

Defense attorneys attempted to attack the accuser’s credibility as testimony ended in a crucial hearing to determine whether Warren Jeffs stands trial on charges of rape as an accomplice.

The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jeffs, 50, is accused of forcing the now 20-year-old woman to marry and have sex when she was a minor. Separately, she is suing Jeffs and the church.

Jeffs’ attorney, Wally Bugden, offered evidence that prosecutors and the woman’s civil lawyer consulted each other while drafting news releases, which Bugden pointed out was rare.

“Pretty unusual? Never happened in your career?” Bugden asked sheriff’s investigator Shauna Jones.

“Not in my career,” Jones replied.

Jones was the only witness called by the defense.

Prosecutors contend Jeffs forced the girl to marry her 19-year-cousin in 2001.

Jeffs is also charged with multiple felonies in Mohave County, Ariz., but won’t face those charges until after the Utah case is complete.

At the helm of the FLDS church since 2002, Jeffs disappeared from public life in 2004 after lawsuits filed against him and his church alleged abuses of some members. Criminal charges in Arizona and Utah followed in 2005 and 2006. Earlier this year, Jeffs was named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.

Jeffs was arrested Aug. 28 in a traffic stop on Interstate 15 just north of Las Vegas. He is being held without bail.


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