Court asked to reopen polygamous church case

Daily Herald, October 4, 2000
By Robert Gehrke

A former Ivins dairy rancher claims a polygamous church leader and his followers conspired to steal $1.5 million she intended to use to buy a ranch in southern Utah.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Virginia Hill asked the Utah Supreme Court to revive her lawsuit over the alleged fraud, arguing a district court judge erred when he dismissed her suit because the statute of limitations had lapsed.

Her attorney, Clark Nielsen, argued the limitations should have been extended because the defendants lied and tried to cover up where Hill's money ended up.

But Ron Barker, the attorney for Owen Allred, leader of the Apostolic United Brethren church and several of his followers, said Hill did little to inquire about where her money went, and the statute of limitations should not be extended.

The court will likely rule on the case in a few months. Allred, 86, leads the 5,000-member polygamist church, centered in Bluffdale, 14 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Hill sued the AUB church and others in 1997, but 4th District Court Judge Anthony Schofield dismissed the suit against all but one, ruling that Hill "did nothing for 7 1/2 years" to locate her money, and the statute of limitations had lapsed.

Arguing before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Nielsen disputed Schofield's ruling.

"They say she should have followed the money. Well, she did," Nielsen said.

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