|Deseret Morning News graphic Settlement agreement(827kb.pdf file)|
ST. GEORGE Her name is Elissa Wall.
The woman at the center of the case against Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs made her name known today, when her attorneys released a photograph of her at age 14 the age she was when she claims she was forced into a marriage with her 19-year-old cousin.
"It's important to keep in mind that she's a 14-year-old girl when this occurred," said her attorney, Greg Hoole. "This picture helps people keep that in mind."
Wall, now 21, was relieved to see the trial go to the jury late this afternoon, Hoole said.
"She's doing well," he said.
The jury is now deliberating whether Jeffs is guilty or innocent of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. Jeffs is accused of performing a marriage between Wall and her 19-year-old cousin, Allen Steed, at a Caliente, Nev., motel room in 2001.
As the prosecution's star witness, Wall presented a heartbreaking case against Jeffs. She testified she did not want to be married to her cousin, and begged Jeffs to be spared from the union. No one, she claims, came to her defense. She said her mother and others betrayed her by insisting she go through with the marriage.
After the marriage, Wall said she met with Jeffs to complain about her husband touching her in ways she didn't like. Jeffs, she claims, told her to repent, return home, and give herself, "mind, body and soul" to her husband.
The girl testified she was terrified the first time the couple had sex and that her husband said it was "time for you to be a wife" when he forced himself on her. She said the event traumatized her so much that she attempted suicide by swallowing bottles of pain reliever, although she later threw it up.
Jeffs' defense attorneys have pointed out that before Wall met with law enforcement, she first grabbed a lawyer and filed a civil lawsuit against Jeffs and the financial arm of the FLDS Church, the United Effort Plan Trust.
A settlement proposal first reported by the Deseret Morning News earlier this week revealed that Wall is seeking $1 million in an emergency fund for others leaving the FLDS Church, as well as property in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.
She also asks the $110 million trust to pay her legal fees.
Hoole told reporters today the reason for the lawsuit was simple.
"When Elissa was 14-years-old she had no option. She was trapped in that community," he said. "The purpose of that lawsuit is to create a fund to make sure that future girls like Elissa have the means to leave the community."
He criticized Jeffs' defense attorneys for trying to portray Wall as money hungry."The settlement agreement speaks for itself," he said. "None of that money goes to Elissa. She will not receive a penny. It's to help give the opportunity to underage brides that she never had."
E-mail: bwinslow @desnews.com