FLDS trust's fiduciary files complaint against former child bride's family

The Salt Lake Tribune/February 13, 2009

A fiduciary overseeing a polygamous sect's trust has sued the parents, a sister and former husband of Elissa Wall, saying they, not the trust, are responsible for her forced marriage at age 14.

Bruce R. Wisan filed the third-party complaint in Wall's multimillion lawsuit against the United Effort Plan Trust. He argues that any damages that may have resulted from her 2001 marriage to Allen Steed were "primarily and ultimately" caused by their failure to act.

In addition to Steed, the complaint names Lloyd Wall and Sharon Wall, Elissa's parents; Rebecca Musser, her sister; and former trustees Truman I. Barlow, Leroy S. Jeffs, James Zitting, William E. Jessop and the estate of the late Fred M. Jessop. Lloyd and Sharon Wall were separated, and Sharon Wall was assigned to Jessop, as is custom in the sect.

Wall sued the trust in 2005 under the pseudonym "M.J.," claiming it conspired in sanctioning her unwanted marriage and providing a home to the couple, where non-consensual sexual intercourse occurred. She is seeking an unspecified amount from the trust, including creation of a $1 million fund to assist others who leave the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Wisan argues the trust's failure to act was secondary to that of Wall's family, former husband and then trustees.

"UEP Trust contends that it is without fault, responsibility, or blame for any of the damages that plaintiff may have suffered," the complaint states.

Wisan asks that the defendants be required to indemnify the trust for any judgment entered against it or bear a proportionate share of any award given Wall. It also asks that the defendants pay the trust's costs and attorney fees in the action.

FLDS leader Warren S. Jeffs was convicted in 2007 of rape as an accomplice on the basis of Wall's marriage. During his trial, Wall testified that her stepfather, Fred Jessop, and her mother and sister all encouraged her to go ahead with the marriage to Steed. Sharon Wall and Rebecca Musser made her wedding dress and her sister helped prepare a "honeymoon suite" for the couple. Sharon Wall attended the ceremony, which took place in Caliente, Nev., and held her daughter's hand after she balked at repeating the marriage vows.

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