Teen Bride's Ex-Husband Wants Charges Dismissed

Teen Bride's Ex-Husband Wants Charges Dismissed

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- A man whose ceremonial marriage to a 14-year-old was at the center of a polygamous-sect leader's trial is asking a judge to dismiss a rape charge.

Attorneys for Allen Steed noted the charge was filed more than six years after Steed married his teen bride, but shortly after Steed testified in Warren Jeffs' trial for accomplice rape.

"In that time, evidence has been lost, critical witnesses have died and the memories of others have faded," Jim Bradshaw wrote in a document filed Thursday in 5th District Court in Washington County.

Steed was 19 when he and cousin Elissa Wall were united in a ceremony at a Nevada motel in 2001. They were members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect on the Arizona-Utah border that practices polygamy and arranged marriage.

Steed, now 26, is accused of having sex with the girl against her will. He was charged on Sept. 26 -- a day after Jeffs, the FLDS leader, was convicted of being an accomplice to rape in the couple's relationship.

Prosecutors claimed Jeffs used his iron-fisted influence to force Wall to marry and submit to Steed. Jeffs will be sentenced Tuesday.

Steed, still an FLDS member, freely testified during the church leader's trial. He said he never forced Wall to have sex.

In his filing, Bradshaw accused prosecutors of a lack of "fair play and decency" in springing a rape charge on Steed after the Jeffs trial.

"The timing of this prosecution creates an appearance that the case was filed as retaliation for Mr. Steed's support of Mr. Jeffs," Bradshaw said. "It further sends a message to others in the FLDS community regarding the consequences of providing such support."

Washington County prosecutors could not be reached for comment after hours Thursday night.

In a separate court filing, Bradshaw asked that Steed's case be moved out of southwestern Utah, where Jeffs was on trial. He said a fair jury won't be found there.

"The state has purposefully created a situation where people were exposed to, have contemplated, and have reached conclusions as to the guilt of Mr. Steed ... long before he ever walked through the courthouse doors," Bradshaw said.

Wall, now 21, was granted an FLDS divorce by Jeffs in 2004 after she became pregnant with another man's child. The AP does not typically name victims of sexual abuse, but Wall has made several public statements using her maiden name. She has declined to disclose her current legal name.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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