Religious leader's rape trial gets under way

The Salt Lake Tribune/March 20, 2012

The leader of a religious sect once based in Magna told a 15-year-old girl he was "the Holy Ghost" and promised her "blessings" before forcing her to have sex with him, prosecutors said Tuesday as the man's rape trial began.

Terrill Dalton, the president of the Church of the Firstborn of the General Assembly of Heaven, is charged with raping the teen and as a party to rape for allegedly commanding her to have sex with another church leader in 2005.

On the first day of testimony, Dalton's former First Counselor in the church, Geody Harman, said he believed he was obeying a commandment — following one of the church's "higher doctrines" of "giving seed" — when he had sex with the girl. Harman, 38, said he had experienced an "impression" that he should have sex with the teen and conferred with Dalton.

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

Harman said the teen watched his five children while he took his wife on a date. Then he returned home and prayed with the girl about having sex.

When the girl appeared to have reservations, Harman asked, "Do you want to do what God wants you to do?"

She nodded, he said, and they undressed.

Later, Harman said the 45-year-old Dalton told him that he had also had sex with the teen.

Defense attorney Rudy Bautista has said Dalton maintains he is innocent of the charges. In opening statements, Bautista said the teen was angry with Dalton and that others were looking for ways to destroy the church because of "financial motivations."

The religious sect never had more than 100 members. The group left Utah and moved to Idaho before settling in southern Montana.

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