Lawsuit over 'Escaping Polygamy' episode ends as plaintiff goes silent

A mother had claimed a film crew trespassed.

A judge in Salt Lake City has dismissed a lawsuit in which a Utah woman accused A&E Networks and the production team behind the television show ”Escaping Polygamy” of trespassing in her home and inflicting emotional trauma on her daughter.

U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer dismissed the suit in May because the plaintiff, Susan Nelson of Taylorsville, did not serve the complaint on the defendants — A&E and RIVR Media. Nelson filed the lawsuit in March 2016.

Nelson did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Tyler Ayres, said he no longer represents Nelson. Neither A&E nor RIVR offered any comment. 

“Escaping Polygamy” follows Jessica Christensen and Shanell DeRieux as they work to help young people wanting to leave, or who have recently left, polygamous sects. Christensen and DeRieux are former members of the Kingston Group, also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society and the Latter Day Church of Christ. 

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Luanne Cooper, left, a former member of the Polygamist Kingston clan and Jessica Christensen of the show "Escaping Polygamy" attend a hearing for HB99, a bill amending Utah's bigamy statute as it goes back to the House Judiciary Committee for another hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017.

Nelson’s complaint said the production company RIVR inflicted emotional distress when it offered her daughter $5,000 per episode to appear on "Escaping Polygamy." She accused the defendants of pressuring the daughter to leave home. Nelson also accused a film crew of trespassing when they entered her home in Taylorsville in December 2014.

The family was at the home in December 2014 when the daughter's friends, as well as DeRieux and Christensen, arrived. The lawsuit accuses them of "reaching through a doggie door at the rear of the home" to unlock a door and enter the house. One uninvited male then put his arm around the daughter's waist to remove her from the room, the lawsuit says.

Nelson got the uninvited guests to leave the house, but they remained on the property, filming through the windows, the lawsuit also says.

After a Unified Police Department officer arrived and was told by the daughter that she wanted to leave, the lawsuit says, the officer opened a door to allow the daughter and her friends to retrieve some of her property. The film crew re-entered the home with her.

The episode was aired in July 2015.


Twitter: @natecarlisle