Trial hears claims of step-dad pedophilia

Dec. 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM   |   0 comments

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- A Salt Lake City court heard allegations from a woman that her stepfather was a pedophile who hid behind religion to justify his actions.

Brian Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee allegedly kidnapped 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002. Now in her 30s, LouRee Gayler told court her step-parents sexually abused her repeatedly, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

"Religion was used as an excuse for their behavior," Gayler testified in Salt lake City Friday. "They could treat anybody anyway they wanted and repent so they didn't have to answer to their wrongdoings."

Mitchell was a member of a breakaway Mormon sect that endorses polygamy.

His defense team went into the trial earlier this year claiming he was mentally ill. Thursday, clinical psychologist Richart DeMier testified he diagnosed Mitchell as a paranoid schizophrenic, partly based on Mitchell's claims he was a prophet.

Mitchell's brother-in-law, Steve Dean, testified Friday that Mitchell would put on robes and beg for money downtown, then return to his mother's house to watch TV, the report said.

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