SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the convictions of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and ordered a new trial, saying a jury received incorrect instructions before considering his role in the 2001 nuptials of a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

Jeffs, 54, was convicted in 2007 of two counts of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice. He is serving two consecutive terms of five years to life in the Utah State Prison.

“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court had the courage to exonerate, or at least find that legal errors were made, so that Mr. Jeffs, obviously a very unpopular figure in the state of Utah, could have his conviction overturned,” defense attorney Wally Budgen said.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura DuPaix said the state maintains its position that Jeffs used his religious authority to force an underage girl to marry and have sex.

“The court said today that at least part of our legal reasoning was misguided. We accept that and we think that’s unfortunate,” she said. “We do think that it will make it a little more difficult to prosecute men like Warren Jeffs who are forcing young girls into unwanted marriages.”

Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The sect, whose estimated 10,000 members live mostly on the Utah-Arizona state line, practices polygamy in marriages arranged by church leaders. Some marriages have involved underage girls to older men.

Jeffs performed the religious marriage of Elissa Wall and Allen Steed in a Nevada motel. He later counseled Wall to be obedient and give her “mind, body and soul” to her husband to make an unhappy marriage work.

The AP does not typically name victims of alleged sexual assault, but Wall has frequently spoken publicly about the case.

In its ruling Tuesday, the court agreed with defense attorneys who argued that jurors should not have been told to decide whether Wall’s marital relations were consensual based on Jeffs’ actions and his role as her religious leader. That essentially equates Jeffs with Steed — the person who allegedly has had non-consensual sex.