SALT LAKE CITY -- A woman who has filed a lawsuit against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and others in the Fundamentalist LDS Church accusing them of "ritualistic sex abuse" could have her identity unmasked in court.
Lawyers for the court-controlled United Effort Plan Trust, which oversees property in the polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a woman known only as "R.H." As part of overall arguments about proper jurisdiction, the attorneys contend she must reveal her identity if she wants to sue Jeffs, the FLDS Church and the UEP Trust.
"If Plaintiff wants to continue her pursuit of the Trust, she could then presumably attempt to file another lawsuit – which would require her to either reveal her identity on the Complaint ... or to seek prior court permission to proceed anonymously," UEP Trust attorney Zachary Shields wrote in a filing.
FOX 13 first reported on the woman's accusations last year. She alleges that as an 8-year-old girl, she was often taken from her home with a bag over her head, driven to an unknown location and then sexually abused by Jeffs and other FLDS leaders.
Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence in Texas for child sex assault related to underage "marriages."
"I have filed this lawsuit in order to hold certain parties accountable for the religious-based systemic sexual abuse of young children. Even though Warren Jeffs is in prison, it is my belief and personal experience that these abuses continue," R.H. said in a statement to FOX 13 released through her attorneys last year.
"It is my hope that the FLDS community will see that Warren Jeffs' communications and edicts should not be followed, as they have tragic consequences to the victims and legal consequences to his followers. I hope that filing this case will give strength to the many others who have been and are still being abused in the FLDS community and that the abuse done in the name of 'religion' will stop."
Jeffs has consistently refused to respond to any civil lawsuit leveled against him or the FLDS Church, which he still leads from his prison cell. FOX 13 has obtained video depositions in other cases, where he has consistently refused to answer questions from lawyers.
The UEP Trust, which has millions in assets, would be the target for any lawsuit payout. The Trust was taken over by the Utah State Courts in 2005 over allegations that Jeffs and others mismanaged it.
In the filing asking the judge to toss her lawsuit, Shields argued the UEP was a victim of Jeffs as well.
"Plaintiff improperly tries to equate the Trust with Warren Jeffs, but this is simply not the case. The Trust consists of thousands of charitable beneficiaries, many of whom were also victims of Warren Jeffs. Indeed, the Trust itself was a victim of Warren Jeffs, as he breached his fiduciary duties as trustee (which breach resulted in the probate court’s removing Warren Jeffs as trustee)," he wrote.
"Given such facts, it would be wholly unfair to require the Trust to pay for the sins of Warren Jeffs. Why should multiple victims (the Trust and its beneficiaries) be forced to compensate a single alleged victim (the Plaintiff) for the misconduct of Warren Jeffs?"
The woman's attorney, Alan Mortensen, told FOX 13 revealing her identity could subject her to more violence.
"It is sad that the UEP Trust, which was reformed to protect victims of the FLDS Church's horrific abuses, seeks to have the identity of a victim of repeated childhood rapes, not so it can know her name, which it already does, but so that thousands of FLDS Church adherents who call Warren Jeffs their 'prophet,' will know her identity," he said.