A Utah woman who was married to her cousin at the age of 14 by polygamous cult leader Warren Jeffs has won a lawsuit against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Elisa Wall was awarded $16 million by Judge Keith Kelly, who said in his ruling that the behavior of Jeffs and the religious group “was so extreme that it went beyond all possible bound of decency and is regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.”
Wall’s attorney Alan Mortensen also stated that the ruling would also allow attorneys to review and investigate the secretive group’s financial information and investments, which will show their property holdings and bank accounts.
Mortensen said, “This is hopefully to continue the attack on illegal and criminal conduct so they’ll comport their doctrines to what’s permissible under the U.S. Constitution,”
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is located on the border of Utah and Arizona, has been targeted on multiple fronts by the federal government in recent years. Wall’s testimony about the marriage helped to convict Warren Jeffs as being an accomplice in rape. While that verdict was eventually overturned, be his now serving a life sentence for the rapes of young girls who he considered to be his wives.
Last year an Arizona jury found that the towns that form the group’s base of operations have denied police protection, building permits and water hookups to nonbelievers on the basis of religion.
As for Elisa Wall, she says that she will use the funds that she receives to help others leave the group.
In a statement Walls said, “I can now close these chapters in my life and focus on building a better future for myself and my children.”
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