SALT LAKE CITY — A former leader of a religious sect based in Utah before moving to Idaho and Montana has pleaded guilty to having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Geody Harman, former first counselor of the Church of the Firstborn of the General Assembly of Heaven, entered the plea Friday in 3rd District Court to a third-degree felony count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
The sect’s president, Terrill Dalton was convicted by a Utah jury last month of two first-degree felony counts of rape. He was charged with raping the same girl and ordering her to have sex with Harman.
Prosecutors say Dalton convinced the girl to have sex with him by telling her he was “the Holy Ghost” and she would receive blessings. They say he told her to have sex with Harman because it was God’s will.
The victim, now 22, has said she felt “extreme pressure” from Dalton and others in the church to comply with his commands. She said she was taught to do everything she was told, and was lectured, reprimanded and beaten if she didn’t obey.
Dalton’s defense attorney argued that the woman waited years to report the crimes and had since been inconsistent with her story.
The sect was in Magna, Utah, when the crimes occurred in 2005 and 2006. The group moved to Idaho before settling in Montana, where the men were arrested. The sect never exceeded 100 members.
Dalton faces up to life in prison when he’s sentenced May 11, while Harman could receive up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced June 8.
Prosecutor Alicia Cook said Harman was offered a plea deal because he cooperated in the case against Dalton, 45. As part of the deal, Harman is being recommended for a lighter sentence.