Warren Jeffs, 51, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was convicted on two charges of acting as an accomplice to rape.
Jeffs, a self-proclaimed prophet whose followers believe he is descended from Jesus Christ, was arrested in August last year after being included on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list.
Prosecutors at his trial in St George, Utah, told the court Jeffs had ordered the girl to get married and have sex with her cousin against her will.
“Mr. Jeffs told a 14-year-old girl, who had told him she thought she was too young to get married, that it was her obligation,” prosecutor Brock Belnap said.
The religious leader’s defence team had insisted he did nothing more than offer routine advice to his accuser, who is now 21.
Jeffs, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out on Tuesday. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Jeffs’ community broke from the Mormon Church because of differences over polygamy.
Possible life sentence
Members of the group are known to live in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota and Canada’s British Columbia.
The FLDS broke from the mainstream Mormon Latter-Day Saints more than a
century ago because of differences on the question of whether men were allowed
to take multiple wives.
Polygamy, or “plural marriage,” is a key plank of the FLDS church, but was not an issue in Jeffs’ trial.
However, Jeffs’ followers claimed their leader was prosecuted because of the FLDS’s beliefs about polygamy, which is opposed by Mormons and illegal under US law.