Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Bruce Wisan, the United Effort Plan trust administrator, Attorney Jeff Shields and Assistant Attorney General David Wolf wait for a hearing to begin in Elissa Wall's "MJ" lawsuit against Warren Jeffs and the UEP trust in Salt Lake City, Wednesday May 21, 2014. Judge Keith Kelly heard a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in the hearing.
Deal with child bride Elissa Wall discussed in lawsuit hearing
Courts » Elissa Wall is suing a polygamous trust, and others, for millions of dollars.
First Published May 21 2014 05:34 pm • Last Updated May 21 2014 10:57 pm

In a case that pits a former child bride against a polygamous trust run by the state of Utah, attorneys argued Wednesday over an agreement between the bride and her ex-husband.

Attorneys for the trust, called the United Effort Plan, say the deal is evidence of witness tampering, and argued that the trust should be dismissed as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"This is illegal, judge," attorney Bill Walker, who is representing the trust, said of the agreement. "This is extortion."

The plaintiff is Elissa Wall, whose testimony once helped convict Warren Jeffs. Her attorneys contended the agreement was not improper and the case should proceed.

"There was never ever, ever an idea that they were going to muzzle someone so they can’t testify, or tamper with the truth," Wall’s attorney, Mike Worel said in court.

Third District Court Judge Keith Kelly said he would issue a ruling at a later date.

Wall is seeking $30 million to $40 million from the trust and other defendants, including Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

But only the United Effort Plan is defending the lawsuit and is presumably the only defendant with any assets to pay a judgment.

Wall was raised in the polygamous FLDS. She was 14 when she was forced to marry her 21-year-old cousin Allen Steed. Jeffs helped arrange the union.

Wall later left the marriage. Jeffs was charged in state court in St. George with rape as an accomplice. Wall’s testimony helped convict him, and Jeffs received a sentence of life in prison. The Utah Supreme Court later overturned the verdict.

story continues below
story continues below

Steed was later charged with sex crimes, but the criminal case was settled in 2011 when Steed entered a plea in abeyance to a reduced charge and served 30 days in jail.

What UEP attorneys say they didn’t discover until recently was the existence of a deal that Wall and Steed signed in 2011. Steed agreed to not assist the UEP in defending the lawsuit Wall filed against it over her forced marriage and what she says was rape. In return, Wall agreed not to oppose the resolution of Steed’s criminal case.

The state took control of the UEP in 2005 out of concerns about mismanagement. The trust controls much of the land and property in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. The court-appointed fiduciary, Bruce Wisan, has expressed concern that a large judgment against the trust could force the sale of land and homes.

Outside of court Wednesday, Wisan said he remains open to a "reasonable" settlement with Wall.

"The trust is valued at $110-120 million, why should she get a third of that?"

The lawsuit is titled MJ v. Warren Jeffs. Wall is MJ, but was given the moniker because the lawsuit centers on what happened when she was a minor. Wall was not present in court on Wednesday.

@sltrib.com" target="_blank">ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltrib.com

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.