Ex-polygamist bishop given 10-year prison term

November 8, 2011 - 7:40 PM

ROBERT LEE, Texas (AP) — A former polygamist bishop convicted of marrying sect leader Warren Jeffs to a 12-year-old girl was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison.

Fredrick Merril Jessop, 75, received the maximum sentence from a West Texas jury that deliberated less than an hour after closing arguments in the trial's punishment phase ended. Jessop was found guilty Monday of performing an illegal wedding ceremony.

The San Angelo Standard Times (http://bit.ly/v31mnm ) reported that prosecutors presented evidence that Jessop participated in marriage ceremonies involving 16 underage girls. That includes a 2006 ceremony between Jeffs and one of his underage brides at his Yearning for Zion ranch.

Two years later, authorities raided the YFZ ranch and gathered a trove of evidence that brought charges against Jessop, Jeffs and 10 other followers.

Jeffs is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was sentenced to life in prison in August on charges of sexually assaulting two of his underage brides.

Prosecutors said several marriages Jessop performed involved women who had been married to Jeffs' father before he died.