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Sam Penrod reporting Warren Jeffs is out as the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He resigned from his post the day he was sentenced to life in prison, but word of it was just released this afternoon.
Jeffs' attorney sent out a very short and carefully worded statement saying that Warren Jeffs has resigned. But does this really mean Warren Jeffs is out of the picture as a leader of the polygamist sect, or is it a legal maneuver to try and eliminate liability as Jeffs and the FLDS Church are sued by his victim?
The statement was released by Walter Bugden, who represented Jeffs in the criminal case on charges of rape as an accomplice for performing an underage marriage. Jeffs was convicted and sentenced on Nov. 20 to consecutive terms of five years to life in prison.
The statement reads: "Mr. Jeffs has asked that the following statement be released to the media and to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mr. Jeffs resigned as President of the Corporation of the President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Inc., on November 20, 2007."
What the statement doesn't clarify is if Jeffs is also out as the prophet and spiritual leader of the FLDS community headquartered in Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah.
Jeffs and the FLDS Church are being sued by the woman who was married at age 14 to her first cousin, and the damages being sought are likely in the millions of dollars.
Jeffs' attorneys have also filed for a new trial, claiming "errors and improprieties occurred during the trial." There have also been rumors the FLDS sect is going to splinter because of questions over leadership.
It will likely take time to see how this news of Jeffs resigning will play out among his followers.