SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - Child bride marriage are still continuing among the FLDS church members.
Elissa Wall who is suing former FLDS church leader Warren Jeffs, testified that child bride marriages are part of their doctrine. She said that Jeffs is "still acting leader" and documents seized in Texas showed underage children are being forced into marriage.
"Girls who participate in this just disappear," Wall said during Monday's restitution hearing.
Wall who sued Jeffs in 2007, is seeking $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages. The hearing is to determine how much Jeffs must pay Wall for damages related to her "forced" marriage.
Wall testified she was forced into marriage at fourteen years of age despite her objections to Jeffs and other church leaders .
She was married to her first cousin Alan Steed but claimed she was unhappy and repeatedly raped. Wall testified Jeffs ordered the marriage and even officiated at the ceremony.
In court, she testified she would be banned from ever seeing her family and be banned from the polygamist community if she didn't marry.
"If I didn't to the prophet's will, she was no longer welcomed," Wall claimed that's what Jeffs told her. "I would go to hell."
Jeffs was criminally charged in Utah for being an accomplice to rape. But the conviction was overturned by the Utah supreme court. He fled to Texas where later he was convicted of child sex abuse. He is currently serving a life sentence.
Jeffs was a no show and his attorneys failed to appear in court for the restitution hearing. The judge found him to be in default.
"He (Jeffs) refused to answer so he's ignoring the legal process," said Alan Mortensen, Wall's attorney.
Asked if that mean there would likely be a judgment in Walls favor Mortensen said "yes."
He said the $15 million in punitive damages would send a message to the FLDS community that underage marriage can't continue.
"The goal is to punish and penalize the church, to prevent this conduct from happening," said Mortensen. "It's the only way that people listen."
The judge asked about the FLDS assets but Wall's attorneys said they had no idea how much Jeffs was worth. A written order on the damages is expected in a few weeks.
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