Jeffs' accuser in criminal case also has civil case pending

Associated Press/October 10, 2006
By Jennifer Dobner

Salt Lake City -- A woman who is expected to be a crucial witness in a criminal case against polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs also has a civil lawsuit pending against him, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The woman, identified only as M.J., filed a lawsuit against Jeffs in December 2005, Roger Hoole said.

It seeks unspecified damages from Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who is accused of forcing her as a teen to enter into a marriage and sexual relations with a older man.

"The nonconsensual spiritual marriage, the required sexual relations and M.J.'s resulting pregnancies have been physically and emotionally devastating to M.J.," her lawsuit states.

Court documents don't identify M.J.'s age at the time of the marriage to a man identified as S.J.

In the criminal case in southwestern Utah's Washington County, Jeffs faces two rape-by-accomplice charges. He is accused of forcing an underage girl, identified only as Jane Doe No. 4, to marry an older man over her objections.

The FLDS is a sect that practices polygamy in marriages determined by its leaders.

Hoole disclosed M.J.'s connection to the criminal case during an unrelated hearing in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City. He represents seven people who were thrown out of the church and want compensation from a trust that holds FLDS assets.

Hoole referred to M.J. during a discussion about possible settlements involving the seven so-called "lost boys." He said a settlement of her civil lawsuit is delayed by her role in the criminal case.

"More will come out in court in the future," Hoole said outside court, declining to offer details about M.J.

Washington County's chief deputy attorney, Brian Filter, declined to comment on Hoole's disclosure. The woman is expected to testify Nov. 21 when a judge decides if there is probable cause to put Jeffs on trial in the criminal case.

Hoole's brother, lawyer Greg Hoole, said he's working to get three acres of land for each "lost boy." The trust would also establish a $250,000 fund for emergency assistance and education to help those pushed out of the FLDS community on the Arizona-Utah border.

"We're getting closer, and I'm cautiously optimistic that we can resolve the issues," said Jeff Shields, attorney for Bruce Wisan, a court-appointed accountant who is overseeing the trust.

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