© Reuters/Jud Burkett/Pool
U.S. polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs reacts as he listens to the jury being polled after handing down the verdicts against him, in St. George, Utah, September 25, 2007.
Ex-bishop Fredrick Merril Jessop was found guilty on Monday of marrying a 12-year-old girl to polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life term for sexually assaulting two child brides.
Jeffs, 55, leader of a breakaway Mormon sect, was convicted in August of sexually assaulting that girl and a 15-year-old he had taken as so-called "spiritual" wives. Prosecutors said the girls were among two dozen underage brides Jeffs had acquired over the last decade.
A rural West Texas jury found Jessop, 75, guilty of performing an illegal marriage ceremony, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Jessop, a former bishop with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was excommunicated by Jeffs in January.
Jeffs' polygamist sect, which experts estimate has 10,000 followers in North America, has been condemned by the mainstream Mormon Church and is accused of promoting marriages between older men and girls.
FLDS men enter into so-called "celestial marriages" with multiple wives in a process known as "sealing." The FLDS, which broke off from the mainstream Mormon church in the early 20th Century, believes polygamy is necessary to advance to the highest level of heaven.