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Minister, Wife Tried on Sex Charges

June 24, 2009 |  8:00 am

June 24, 1939, Joseph Jeffers
Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

June 24, 1939: The Rev. Joseph Jeffers and his wife, Zella, sit at the defense table during their sensational morals trial, in which prosecutors showed a film of them taken during a raid on their apartment. The Times said that if the film were shown anywhere except a courtroom, the exhibitors would be arrested.

June 24, 1939, Jeffers Case

June 24, 1939: The morals trial of the Rev. Joseph Jeffers and his wife, Zella, gets underway after they were arrested in April 1939.  Their immoral 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.

Criminal Complaint, Joseph and Zella Jeffers

And this is their crime, which was considered so obscene that The Times couldn't describe it.