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Suit against FLDS Trust going forward

Elissa Wall
Elissa Wall

Talks to settle a lawsuit between Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' rape accuser and the polygamous church's multimillion-dollar trust have broken down.

It appears Elissa Wall's lawsuit against the United Effort Plan Trust will now be headed for court. Lawyers for the court-controlled UEP Trust are seeking to have it dismissed entirely.

"With the commencement of litigation in the present lawsuit, the Trust intends to file a dispositive Motion for Summary Judgment which, if granted, would result in the dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims against the Trust," Jeffrey L. Shields, a lawyer for the court-appointed special fiduciary of the UEP Trust, wrote in court documents.

Wall was the star witness in the criminal case against FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice. He performed a marriage between Wall, then 14, and her 19-year-old cousin, Allan Steed. Jeffs faces up to life in prison when sentenced on Nov. 20. Steed recently has been charged with first-degree felony rape.

Wall filed a multimillion-dollar personal injury lawsuit against Jeffs and added the UEP Trust to the list of defendants. Jeffs was the president of the UEP Trust's board until a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court took control of it in 2005 amid allegations that Jeffs and other top FLDS leaders had mismanaged it.

The UEP Trust, with an estimated $100 million in assets, controls mostly real estate in the FLDS enclaves of Hildale, Utah; Colorado City, Ariz.; and Bountiful, British Columbia, in Canada.

Settlement proposals revealed in Jeffs' criminal trial indicated that Wall sought to receive property for her family and her attorneys, as well as a $1 million emergency fund to help other women and children who wish to leave the FLDS Church.

Shields said the UEP Trust does not believe it is liable for any of Jeffs' alleged wrongdoing, but it remains open to resuming settlement talks.

"We kind of drew a line in the sand where negotiations have gone to before," he said Friday. "I very rarely say, 'I'll never talk settlement."'