Six young men who sued the Fundamentalist LDS Church and its leader, Warren Jeffs, are dropping their lawsuit.
“My clients feel like they’ve accomplished what they needed to,” their attorney, Roger Hoole, told the Deseret Morning News late Wednesday. “The only thing left to go after is money, and that’s not what they wanted.”
The six filed court papers in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court seeking to dismiss the lawsuit they filed in 2004, accusing Jeffs and the FLDS Church of ousting them from the communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., and cutting them off from their families. The young men became known as the “Lost Boys.”
“We have met our goals,” Walter Fischer, one of the original plaintiffs, said in a statement issued by his attorney on Wednesday. “The only thing left to do is to go after money, and this case has never been about that.”
According to Hoole, the young men succeeded in helping to separate the FLDS Church’s real estate arm, the United Effort Plan Trust, from the polygamous sect. In 2005, a judge took control of the $110 million trust amid allegations Jeffs and other top FLDS officials had mismanaged it.
“Doing this was critical to protect the FLDS people, who live in church-owned homes and are dependent on staying in the church’s good favor for their housing,” plaintiff Richard Gilbert said in the statement.
Hoole said the “Lost Boys” have also helped law enforcement obtain evidence to investigate and prosecute Jeffs, who appeared in an Arizona courtroom on Wednesday to face criminal charges. He was convicted in St. George last year of rape as an accomplice, for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.
Attorneys for the “Lost Boys” said they also have helped in the investigations of the Hildale/Colorado City town marshals and pass legislation that makes child abandonment illegal. That bill passed in the 2008 legislative session.
The “Lost Boys” will retain an interest in the reforms of the UEP Trust. They settled a lawsuit with the trust in 2007, enabling them to receive some property and an education fund.
“They’re very pleased with the objectives that they have accomplished, and are not really interested in pursuing Warren Jeffs or the FLDS Church for money,” Hoole said. “I know it sounds weird, but that’s what we’ve been saying that whole time.”
A sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Jeffs by his nephew, Brent, also is being dismissed.
“I have no interest in getting money from Warren or the church,” Brent Jeffs said in the statement. “What has been accomplished is far more important than that.”
Other lawsuits against Jeffs and the FLDS Church are pending — including one by Elissa Wall, who was Washington County’s star witness in their case against Jeffs, and one by a young man who is demanding that Jeffs reveal the location of his estranged mother.