Trial set for southern Utah man accused of rape, promoting ‘pure seed’ lineage

'You are a danger,' judge says in sending man who strangled girlfriend to prison

A trial date has been set for Ross Wesley LeBaron, 79, who prosecutors say used religion to emotionally and sexually abuse a woman for many years. He is charged with three counts of rape. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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KANAB — A five-day trial has been scheduled in southern Utah for a man who prosecutors say used religious beliefs — including promoting the idea of a pure race line — to psychologically and sexually abuse a woman for years.

Ross Wesley LeBaron, 79, of Kanab, is charged in 6th District Court with three counts of rape, a first-degree felony.

Between 2011 and 2016, starting when the victim was a girl and continuing into adulthood, LeBaron sexually assaulted a woman who is related to him multiple times, according to charging documents.

“(LeBaron) engaged in a pattern of emotional and psychological abuse and control that included an indoctrination of religious beliefs about perpetuating a pure race line by propagating children with her,” the charges state.

The investigation into the alleged abuse began in 2021. According to a 20-page written statement by the woman to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office that was submitted to the court as evidence, LeBaron “believes he has found the (Promised) Land and the Garden of Eden, that he is Jacob, the only one who has ever wrestled with God and won, that he is The One Mighty and Strong … that he will be the one to organize and lead the right in the new millennium of peace. He also believes in the pure seed blood doctrine and that incest (is) a step up from polygamy (and) is ordered and directed by God.”

“God had to have the future leaders of his kingdom born from his most righteous and pure blood line,” the woman said LeBaron told her, according to her statement.

The woman said LeBaron did not tolerate anyone arguing or disagreeing with him and would hold “all-day” meetings if he felt anyone “needed to be pulled in line,” according to the statement. She also stated that LeBaron would repeatedly say it’s OK for a 10- to 12-year-old girl “to be married and placed in families.” He also talked frequently about the end of the world, according to the statement, that God would lead him to gold and treasures, and he had dreams about locating the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The woman stated she did not want to be married to LeBaron, but was sexually assaulted multiple times and gave birth to several of his children, charging documents state.

In August, a judge ordered LeBaron to continue to remain in jail without bail pending trial. In a motion asking for his client to be released, pending trial, LeBaron’s attorney argued that his client is not a flight or a danger to the woman because he will turn 80 in October, the most recent alleged rape was more than five years ago, and the woman no longer lives in Utah.

A status hearing for the case is scheduled for Sept. 22. A five-day trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 9.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News

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