Elissa Wall, the child bride whose testimony once helped convict Warren Jeffs, reached a confidential deal with her former husband requiring he not aid the parties she was suing, according to new court records.
The contract between Wall and her ex-husband, Allen Steed, are included in a defense motion to dismiss Wall’s lawsuit against Jeffs, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the United Effort Plan.
The latter is the trust that holds much of the property in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., and may be the only party with assets Wall could pursue for damages.
The lawsuit is titled in state court in Salt Lake City as MJ vs. Warren Jeffs. "MJ" is the moniker assigned to Wall because the lawsuit centers on events that happened when she was a minor. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the dismissal motion and the case.
Here are some terms of the agreement between Wall and Steed:
• The contract states "neither Steed nor his counsel will participate in the Civil Action in a manner which is confrontational adversarial in regard to Wall or her legal interests, nor assist the [UEP] Trust in any way in defending itself against Wall’s claims."
• Wall will object if any party attempts to make Steed a defendant in her lawsuit.
• Wall agreed not to oppose the resolution of Steed’s criminal case.
The agreement was apparently signed, according to the motion, the same day in 2011 that Steed entered a plea in abeyance to unlawful sex with a minor and received a 30-day jail sentence. Steed had been charged with a first-degree felony that could have put him in prison for life.
A copy of the contract can be found on page 30 of the accompanying documents.
Attorneys for the UEP say they only recently became aware of the deal, despite years of litigation and discovery motions. UEP attorneys argue in their dismissal motion that there is evidence Wall and her lawyers tampered with a witness to further her lawsuit.
In a rebuttal to the dismissal motion, Wall’s lawyers say agreements not to cooperate with other parties is common in settlement agreements. Also, Wall’s lawyers say they didn’t know about the agreement until recently, either. The rebuttal is attached, too.
Wall is suing the UEP, the FLDS, Jeffs and others for damages related to her forced marriage to Steed, her cousin, in 2001. Wall was 14 at the time of the marriage. Steed was 19.
Neither the FLDS nor Jeffs is defending the lawsuit. That’s put the UEP in the position of having to oppose Wall, the child bride who has since written a book and tried to help other girls in polygamous families.
If the UEP loses, its lawyers and fiduciary fears, it could mean the loss of millions of dollars and put people at risk of losing their homes.
Jeff Shields, an attorney for the UEP, on Friday said Wall’s attorneys told the judge at the last hearing they are seeking $30 to $40 million.
— Nate Carlisle
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