Utah rape trial under way for Montana sect leader

Mar 21 2012 - 1:45pm

SALT LAKE CITY -- Prosecutors say the 45-year-old co-leader of a small, Montana-based religious sect told a 15-year-old girl he was "the Holy Ghost" and she would receive blessings if she had sex with him.

The testimony came Tuesday during the first day of a Salt Lake City trial for Terrill Dalton, who is the president of the Church of the Firstborn of the General Assembly of Heaven. He faces charges of rape and being a party to rape for allegedly ordering the teen to have sex with another church leader in 2005.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/GD6k4C), former church leader Geody Harman testified that he thought he was fulfilling one of the highest church doctrines of "giving seed" by having sex with the girl. Harman said he had an "impression" that he should sleep with her and consulted Dalton.

"It's God," Harman said that Dalton told him. "You better go fulfill it."

Harman said the girl babysat his five children while he took his wife on a date. He returned and prayed with the teen about having sex, asking her, ""Do you want to do what God wants you to do?"

The teen nodded, Harman said, and they undressed.

Harman said that Dalton later acknowledged having sex with the teen himself.

Dalton has maintained he's innocent. His lawyer, Rudy Bautista, testified that the girl was angry with Dalton and the accusations stem from financially-motivated efforts to destroy the church.

Harman, 38, also faces a rape charge. Prosecutors offered to let him plea to lesser charges on condition that he testify against Dalton. Harman hasn't officially entered a plea.

The religious sect was based in Magna, Utah, in 2005, before moving to Idaho and eventually settling in southern Montana. It never exceeded 100 members.

Dalton's trial is expected to wrap up Thursday.


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