Thursday, July 21, 2016

FLDS Leader and His Law Firm Sued Over Exploitation of Minors

Courthouse News Service reports on a lawsuit filed last week in Utah federal district court by 21 former members of the polygamous FLDS Church and their children.  In a 121-page complaint in Bistline v. Jeffs, (D UT, filed 7/13/2016)  (full text) the suit names as defendants FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, lawyer Rodney Parker and Parker's Utah law firm Snow, Christensen & Martineau, charging:
On or about August 6, 1998, Rulon Jeffs suffered a major stroke which left him largely impaired and paved the way for [Warren] Jeffs to eventually assume complete and absolute control of the FLDS. As Defendant Jeffs assumed greater control over the FLDS ..., the concept of celestial or spiritual “marriage” of children was not yet broadly practiced.... As he assumed the mantle of power that would later culminate in his self-avowed role as Prophet, ... Jeffs was committed to changing this state of affairs and was obsessed with the creation of a controlled society in which he was the absolute ruler and the wholesale rape of young girls by himself and others was treated as a ceremonially sacrosanct ritual. He sought to institutionalize this atrocious practice and to cloak it with the superficial trappings of legal acceptance, so he retained SC&M to develop an overarching scheme and plan, executed and developed by SC&M during period of years, to develop the legal framework within which Jeffs and his favored cohorts would possess means to enforce their lewd, sadistic, tortious and criminal wishes upon the FLDS people...
The complaint charges defendants with legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, conspiracy, violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, aiding and abetting, and violations of RICO.

In a statement denying wrongdoing, the Snow, Christensen & Martineau law firm said in part: "Our work in protecting religious liberties and other civil rights of the FLDS was not an endorsement of or complicity in illegal behavior."