Polygamist Warren Jeffs in medically induced coma

HOUSTON (AP) — Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was hospitalized Monday in a medically induced coma in critical condition after fasting in the weeks since receiving a life sentence for sexually assaulting underage followers he took as spiritual brides, officials said.

The 55-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was expected to survive, an official familiar with Jeffs’ medical condition told The Associated Press. It was not clear how long Jeffs — who has a history of refusing to eat while incarcerated — would remain in the coma or how long he would be hospitalized, the official said.

Doctors were not specific about why Jeffs was put into the coma.

Jeffs’ attorney Emily Detoto said her client “hasn’t been feeling well” and was taken to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler on Sunday night. She declined to elaborate.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said Jeffs was in critical condition, but Lyons would not give specific details about his status. Lyons said Jeffs told corrections officers he’s fasted in the time since his conviction earlier this month, though it was not immediately clear how long he’d gone without food before being hospitalized.

During Jeffs’ trial, prosecutors used DNA evidence to show he fathered a child with a 15-year-old and played an audio recording of what they said was him sexually assaulting a 12-year-old. Both were among 24 underage wives whom prosecutors said Jeffs collected.

In Texas, Jeffs has been in protective custody, which is among the most restrictive forms of imprisonment in the state.

He was to be alone in his cell daily, not be involved in any work programs and to be out of his cell only to shower and for recreation by himself.

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