'Jane Doe' seeking settlement

Woman at center of case wants $1 million from UEP Trust

Deseret Morning News/September 19, 2007

The woman at the center of the criminal case against Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs has proposed a $1 million settlement with the financial arm of the church.

Details of the proposed settlement with the United Effort Plan Trust were revealed in St. George's 5th District Court, where Jeffs is on trial for rape as an accomplice. Defense attorneys have pointed out to the jury that "Jane Doe IV," as she is known in court documents, filed a lawsuit against Jeffs before going to authorities to report the alleged rape.

"She stands by it," the woman's attorney, Roger Hoole, told the Deseret Morning News on Tuesday.

The woman, now 21, is suing Jeffs, the FLDS Church and the UEP Trust for millions over her marriage at age 14 to her 19-year-old cousin. She is the prosecution's star witness in the case against Jeffs. In her lawsuit, the woman is known by the initials "M.J."

The lawsuit was filed in Cedar City in 2005. Jeffs was served with the lawsuit in February at the Purgatory Jail, where he remains in custody. He has not filed any response.

So far, the only people to fight the lawsuit have been lawyers for the UEP Trust, which came under court control in 2005 amid allegations that Jeffs and other top FLDS leaders had been fleecing it. The UEP Trust controls homes, businesses and property in the polygamist border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Its assets are estimated at more than $100 million.

Recently, M.J.'s attorneys proposed a settlement with the UEP Trust. In a copy of the proposed settlement given to the Deseret Morning News, M.J. asks for property in Hildale and Colorado City; payment of her legal fees; and a special $1 million "M.J. Fund" to provide food, shelter, transportation and emergency needs for people displaced from their FLDS communities "with a primary focus on assisting girls and women with children."

"We've done our part," Hoole said. "It's up to them."

However, the court-appointed special fiduciary in charge of the UEP Trust said Tuesday he did not think they could reach a settlement just yet.

"We don't feel the trust is liable," Bruce Wisan said. "I think it would be appropriate for the trust to do something for M.J. but not at the magnitude their settlement was proposing."

The UEP Trust recently went through a series of reforms in the courts, paving the way for private property ownership. On Tuesday, lawyers for the UEP Trust completed purchase of a dairy farm near Beryl. The farm is an FLDS-linked business. Its assets may be used as part of the trust reform.

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