Salt Lake City — A woman who claims she was forced as a young teenager to marry a much older man to fulfill her duties as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is now suing church leader Warren Jeffs, accusing him of arranging the union.
The civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Cedar City's 5th District Court, Court Executive Rick Davis said. The case will be heard by Judge Michael Westfall but has not been scheduled for a hearing. The lawsuit names Jeffs and the FLDS church corporation as defendants, asks for a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages for the woman, who in court papers is identified only as "M.J."
"The nonconsensual spiritual marriage, the required sexual relations, and M.J.'s resulting pregnancies have been physically and emotionally devastating to M.J.," court documents state.
The lawsuit contends that Jeffs performed the marriage ceremony without her consent and then commanded her and her new husband to "multiply and replenish the Earth." It also says Jeffs conspired to commit battery and sexual abuse on a child because M.J. was too young to be legally married.
A message from The Associated Press seeking comment from Jeffs left at church offices in Eldorado, Texas, was not immediately returned.
Based in the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., the FLDS church teaches its members that plural marriage is an essential part of their glorification in heaven. As spiritual leader of the church, Jeffs is said to arrange and perform marriages for church members.