FLDS Church, leaders face lawsuit claiming ritual sexual abuse of young girls

Warren, Lyle and Seth Jeffs. File photos: Mugshots

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 28, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the FLDS Church and some of its leaders alleges that they have carried out a “calculated plan” to sexually abuse underage girls as part of a religious ritual.

The lawsuit says that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and leaders including president Warren Jeffs, Lyle Jeffs, Seth Jeffs and Wendell Leroy Nielsen, among other people and entities, coerced a woman identified in court documents as R.H. to engage in unwanted sexual rituals starting at age 8.

An attorney for R.H., now 21, indicated in court paperwork that the defendants ” … exercised absolute control, power and authority over R.H.’s life so that he could require her, as an 8-year-old girl, to be subject to sexual ritual.”

Lyle Jeffs, the lawsuit states, ” … who was acting many times as the President of the FLDS Church and was at all times a Priesthood leader in the FLDS Church, would come and remove plaintiff from the Ladies Class and take her to his sound-proof office and engage in sexual relations with Plaintiff under the guise of further teachings in the ‘Ladies Class.'”

The lawsuit also states that R.H. knew her family’s continued existence and good standing in the community required she yield to leaders’ wishes.

“As a young girl, R.H. learned, through personal experience, that participants in
the UEP Trust and members of the FLDS Church who questioned the President’s and other FLDS Church and UEP Trust Priesthood Leader’s absolute power, control and authority would suffer the loss of their homes, families, and support through expulsion from the UEP Trust and FLDS Church,” the filing states.

The lawsuit also alleges multiple FLDS church authorities observed and recorded the sexual abuse of young girls as a part of the ritual.

The lawsuit lists its causes of action as:

  • Conspiracy to commit battery and sexual abuse of a child
  • Infliction of emotional distress
  • Outrage
  • Negligent hiring, appointment, retention and supervision
  • Negligence

The suit asks for unspecified punitive damages.


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