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Minister, Wife Charged With Sex Crimes, April 1939

April 25, 2009 | 10:00 am

April 19, 1939, The Rev. Joseph Jeffers and his wife, Zella Joy

April 9, 1939, The Rev. Joseph Jeffers Charged With Sex Crime  

I came across several 1939 stories about the Rev. Joseph Jeffers and his wife, Zella, who were charged with committing an "unnatural act" that was so scandalous The Times couldn't even describe it. In fact, this act was so horrifying that prosecutors said they were looking for a "shock-proof" jury consisting exclusively of married people. During the trial, The Times reported that spectators fled the courtroom in horror at what was described.

At left, the actual charges filed against the Jefferses. Realize that the district attorney brought two felony sex charges against a married couple who were in their own home. The extortion charge was dismissed for lack of evidence.