Kane County resident on trial for rape and incest – detained until January court date

Ross LeBaron, born in Utah and a Kane County resident for the last 10 years, has been accused of incest and rape of his oldest daughter. He waived his initial trial hearing but appeared in court from jail via video call on August 25, for his detention hearing. After hearing the evidence presented, including witness testimony and DNA testing showing LeBaron had fathered multiple children by his own daughter, Judge Mandy Larsen stated, “This alone is evidence of rape. It is a reasonable inference that a young teenage woman would not reasonably and consensually have sex with her own father … this is non-consensual due to the situation.”


According to statute as presented to the court, rape is defined as coercion of the victim - this doesn’t necessarily constitute direct physical violence. According to the daughter’s statement, she openly resisted in her early teenage years, a fact LeBaron nonverbally denied by shaking his head at the statement. Some of LeBaron’s family feared he was grooming his younger daughter to serve a similar role. The county attorney’s affidavit supporting LeBaron’s arrest states “the State believes that the victim could be at risk of harm or manipulation from [LeBaron] once these charges are filed, due to the extreme psychological and religious based abuse, in addition to sexual abuse, that has occurred for the victim’s entire life.”


The police had been alerted to the issue by one of LeBaron’s daughters, who claimed there had been sexual misconduct by her father - claims later corroborated by some of LeBaron’s sons. The arrest warrant, which alleges three counts of first-degree felony rape, was issued by the district court, and LeBaron was taken into custody without incident on July 15. He was booked into Kane County Jail on the same day, where he currently awaits trial.


As to motivation, the evidence is clear in regards to LeBaron’s intentions. According to witness reports, as well as statements submitted by the investigating detective on the case, LeBaron believes his bloodline contains the blood of Jesus Christ and that he is, “perpetuating a pure race line by propagating children” with his daughter. Both the judge and the prosecuting attorney stated LeBaron’s claims as such multiple times, as well as similar statements by corroborating witnesses, to no objection or debate from LeBaron himself. According to the Judge, evidence held that LeBaron believed his actions were right and just, and that a mandate from God held him above the laws of the land and of the people. LeBaron’s beliefs stated that Christ would return through his incestuous bloodline, via his ‘spiritual wife’ - that is, his daughter. Some of LeBaron’s family expressed further concern as to LeBaron’s intent to perpetuate this belief system; the court has in its possession text messages between LeBaron and his eldest son that corroborate this concern. LeBaron not only ascribes to this belief himself but is actively working to spread that belief to his sons and daughters - in his statement to the county attorney’s office, the investigating detective described LeBaron’s actions as “control and indoctrination.”


Further reports showed that LeBaron had encountered police attention before, and at the time had taken elaborate measures to conceal his daughter and their children - including constructing living quarters in a water tank, and later in a trailer under the ground, to keep them hidden. In addition to this, LeBaron has both means and precedent for leaving the country, having traveled internationally multiple times, and despite having testified that he could not even afford his lawyer, investigations later showed that he has an LLC with thousands of dollars in lands and assets. LeBaron has since, indeed, hired his own lawyer.


As mentioned above, this particular hearing was a detainment hearing - discussing the possibility of bail and incarceration before the trial in earnest. LeBaron’s lawyer stated, “He’s 80 years old - the risk of damage is minimal. The alleged victim lives hundreds of miles away … given his age and total lack of criminal history, I think he should be given the benefit of the doubt as far as his ability to comply.” The defense plead that his client was “living on borrowed time,” and that LeBaron may have serious health concerns exacerbated by a prison sentence and may not live to see his innocence or guilt adjudicated.


Judge Larsen disagreed. “The court finds that there is substantial evidence that this defendant has committed a first-degree felony. [The daughter’s] statement was that she was groomed from a young age to be her father’s ‘spiritual wife,’ and that his belief and actions would create righteous people. He has exchanged texts with his oldest sons to encourage the perpetuation of his beliefs. [The court] finds that the defendant poses a substantial danger to the community should he be released, and that he constitutes a significant flight risk. There is evidence that he has prepared to flee the country … and that he has hidden the alleged victim from the police before … he was evasive. I find that he was not forthright with the court [about his finances and ability to hire a lawyer.]”


Additionally, witness statement attests that LeBaron had done jail time before, and that he had been heard to say he would “die before [he] went back.” Further compounding the judge’s assessment of LeBaron as a risk, witnesses report LeBaron stating - according to the judge, “whether by direct threat or some attempt at prophecy” - that his daughter would die if she tried to flee the situation. The victim alleges that LeBaron had plans to take his children and flee the country, citing his previous attempts to conceal her and the children from the police, as well as his international travels in the past.


LeBaron is to be detained until the trial to determine his guilt, set to begin the week of January 9, 2023.

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