Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Hospitalized After Fasting in Prison
Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs is in critical condition after being rushed to a Texas hospital on Tuesday, a prison official said. The 55-year-old convicted child rapist grew so weakened by fasting that he had to be removed from his solitary prison cell for medical treatment.
On Aug. 4, a Texas jury found Jeffs guilty of forcing two teenage girls into "spiritual marriage," and fathering a child with one of them when she was only 15. He was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 45 years.
The leader of a radical polygamist sect of Mormonism known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Jeffs believes that sexual contact with his wives brings him and the girls closer to God. His 10,000 followers consider him a prophet who serves as God's spokesman on Earth.
Jeffs has a history of hurting himself while incarcerated. In 2010, he practiced ascetic malnourishment until prison officials sent him to the hospital. He has also developed sores on his knees by spending long periods of time in prayer.
Jeffs is scheduled to go on trial a second time in October on charges of first-degree bigamy. If convicted, he could face a life sentence and up to a $10,000 fine.