FLDS Church Dealt Another Blow

A Texas appeals court upheld the child sexual assault conviction of sixty-year-old Allan Keate, an FLDS member and follower of Warren Jeffs.
Tue March 20, 2012 7:27 pm
AP Photo | Tony Gutierrez

{media number=1 align=left}{/media}Allan Keate, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and follower of Warren Jeffs, lost his appeal of his child sexual assault conviction.

Keate, now sixty years old and serving a 33-year sentence at the Stevenson Unit in Cuero, was convicted in December 2009 of sexually assaulting a fifteen-year-old girl five years earlier, when he was 53. That girl, his “spiritual wife,” later gave birth to his son. 

The Texas Third Court of Appeals issued a 37-page opinion Friday upholding Keate’s conviction, rejecting his argument that the state did not prove that the girl had not been artificially inseminated, Matthew Waller reported in the San Angelo Standard Times . “It is not incumbent upon the State to exclude ‘every reasonable hypothesis other than guilt’ for the evidence to be considered sufficient,” the opinion says.

At his 2009 trial, prosecutors used DNA evidence and church records gathered during the April 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado to prove he was the baby’s father. Lawyers for the FLDS have long argued that evidence seized during the raid at the YFZ Ranch should be suppressed because the initial raid was sparked by a hoax phone call from Rozita Swinton, a Colorado woman who phoned a domestic abuse hotline in Texas pretending to be an abused sixteen-year-old girl at the ranch.

But the appeals court rejected that argument in the cases of Michael Emack and Lehi Jeffs’ (two other FLDS men that had their convictions upheld by the same court that just ruled in Keate’s case), siding with prosecutors who maintain the search was legal because Texas authorities did not know the call was a fake, and so were acting in good faith. The appellate opinion on Keate’s case does not delve back into those arguments: “We do not repeat them here,” the opinion says.

Former FLDS church president Wendell Loy Nielsen’s bigamy trial begins on Wednesday in Midland. He will be the eleventh FLDS man to go to trial.

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