A former child bride suing Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs wants to expand her lawsuit to include claims of negligence on behalf of the polygamous sect's real-estate holdings arm.
Lawyers for Elissa Wall, aka "M.J.," are asking a judge to allow them to amend their lawsuit filed against Jeffs, the FLDS Church and the United Effort Plan Trust. The lawsuit was recently moved from Cedar City, where it was originally filed, to Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court, where a judge now oversees the multi-million dollar UEP Trust.
Attached to their motion is a version of the second amended complaint, detailing Jeffs' recent criminal conviction.
"Elissa Wall was required to submit to Warren S. Jeffs' inseparable authority and apparent authority as a Trustee of the UEP Trust and later, as President of both the UEP Trust and the FLDS Church, and did so out of fear of retribution," her attorneys, Roger Hoole and Greg Hoole wrote.
Jeffs, 52, is serving a 10 years-to-life sentence in the Utah State Prison after being convicted of rape as an accomplice. Wall was the prosecution's star witness against Jeffs, testifying that at age 14, he forced her into a marriage with her 19-year-old cousin.
Allen Steed, Wall's then-husband, is now facing rape charges in St. George's 5th District Court. During Jeffs' trial, the FLDS leader's defense attorneys noted that Wall filed the lawsuit before reporting a rape to police.
In the suit, Wall's attorneys allege that under Jeffs, there was no separation between the FLDS Church and the UEP Trust. In 2005, a judge took control of the trust amid allegations that Jeffs and other top FLDS leaders had mismanaged it. The UEP Trust controls homes, businesses and property in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
Among the amended lawsuit's claims is that the UEP Trust was negligent in the sense that it provided Wall and Steed with a church-owned home, where the rape took place.
"Accordingly, the UEP Trust knew, or should have known that, pursuant to FLDS doctrines and goals and despite Elissa Wall's resistance to being married to her adult first cousin at age 14, sexual intercourse was likely to take place between Elissa Wall and Alan Steed if married," Wall's attorneys wrote.An attorney for the court-appointed special fiduciary of the UEP Trust said Tuesday he was still reviewing the proposed changes to the lawsuit. A proposed settlement between Wall and the UEP Trust fell through.
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