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Texas Court Upholds Polygamist’s Conviction

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File photo of a judge's gavel. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a judge’s gavel. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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AUSTIN,Texas(AP) — A Texas appeals court has upheld the child sex abuse conviction of a polygamous group member who was sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Court records say Raymond Merrill Jessop was 32 when he took a 15-year-old girl as one of his many spiritual wives. She gave birth to his daughter in 2005 at the Yearning for Zionranch in West Texas.

The Third Texas Court of Appeals in Austin upheld Merrill’s conviction for sexual assault of a child on Thursday and rejected his 35-point appeal.

Merrill claimed prosecutors never proved the sexual encounter happened in Texas. He questioned the validity of DNA evidence. He claimed the girl could have impregnated herself with a turkey baster.

Merrill was a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a group run by its jailed leader Warren Jeffs.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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