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‘Lost Boys’ settle lawsuit against UEP

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A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against the Fundamentalist LDS Church's financial arm, filed by a group of young men cast out of the polygamist church.

Attorneys for the so-called "Lost Boys" reached a deal Thursday with lawyers for the court-controlled United Effort Plan Trust. It calls for them to receive $250,000 through an education and emergency fund, and 21 acres in property in the FLDS enclave of Hildale, Washington County.

A sexual abuse lawsuit filed by the nephew of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is also part of that settlement.

"They have always seen their claims against the Trust as being about solving problems, not seeking money," lawyer Roger Hoole said in a statement.

The settlement requires court approval. Attorneys are expected to file a motion to approve the deal with a judge today.

The young men — Richard Jessop Ream, Thomas Samuel Steed, Don Ronald Fischer, Dean Joseph Barlow, Walter Scott Fischer and Richard Gilbert — sued Jeffs, the FLDS Church and the UEP Trust in 2004, claiming they were kicked out of their community and separated from their families.

The lawsuit prompted more scrutiny of the FLDS Church and the UEP Trust, which controls homes, businesses and property in the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz. In 2005, a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court seized control of the UEP, after allegations that Jeffs and other top FLDS leaders had been fleecing it.

"Without the 'Lost Boys,' the court would not have intervened, the fiduciary would not have been appointed, the Trust would not have been reformed," said Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the UEP Trust.

The young men will receive 21.15 acres of property in Maxwell Canyon, above Hildale. The UEP Trust will also pay $50,000 for five years to establish the "Lost Boys Assistance and Education Fund" that provides emergency food, shelter and other items for other outcast FLDS youth. A lump sum of $10,000 goes immediately to the Lost Boys' attorneys to dispense for emergencies.

The trust will also pay $100,000 to Baltimore lawyer Joanne Suder, who was involved in filing the initial lawsuits.

A lawsuit filed against the UEP Trust by Warren Jeffs' nephew, Brent Jeffs, was also part of the tentative settlement. He sued in 2004, alleging that he had been sexually abused by his uncle at an FLDS-run school in the 1980s. Brent Jeffs claimed in the lawsuit that his uncle told him the sexual abuse was "God's work," and that he was to tell no one.

The claims are still pending, however, against Jeffs and the FLDS Church. So is a lawsuit filed against Jeffs, the polygamous church and the UEP Trust by a woman known as "M.J." She claims she was forced into a marriage with an older man when she was just 14. "M.J." is the same woman who is testifying against Jeffs in a criminal case against him.

Jeffs, 51, is facing charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. A hearing on suppressing evidence in the case is scheduled for April 23 in St. George's 5th District Court.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com