Church asks federal judge to toss Huntsman lawsuit alleging fraud

Religion

The spires of the historic Salt Lake Temple are shown here during the 186th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on April 2, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

(ABC4) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking a federal judge to toss a lawsuit from the brother of a former Utah governor.

In late March, James Huntsman filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Church of fraud, saying it spent members’ tithes meant for charity on commercial purposes. The suit, filed in California, says the Latter-day Saints Corporation “dishonestly and fraudulently placed its own commercial financial interests above the loyalty and well-being of the Church’s most devout members, including Plaintiff James Huntsman.”

According to Huntsman’s lawsuit, which you can read here, the Corporation has “repeatedly and publicly lied about the intended use of those funds, “promising they would go to purposes like missionary work, member indoctrination, temple work, and other educational and charitable activities.

“Behind the scenes, however, rather than using tithing funds for the promised purposes, the LDS Corporation secretly lined its own pockets by using the funds to develop a multi-billion dollar commercial real estate and insurance empire that had nothing to do with charity.”

Tithing funds are a one-tenth part of produce or earnings, paid as contributions or donations to a religious organization by members.

In a formal response recently filed U.S. District Court in California, attorneys for the Church deny Huntsman’s allegations and request a prayer for relief.

“The Church prays that Mr. Huntsman’s complaint be dismissed with prejudice. Additionally, because the complaint is without merit and was not maintained in good faith, the Church requests reimbursement of its costs and attorney’s fees. The Church also asks for any other relief that is just and proper.”

Throughout the filing, attorneys for the Church deny the claims made by Huntsman, as well as his donation of “10% of his annual income to the Church between 1993 and 2017 and also denies that his donations during this time ‘amounted to millions of dollars.'”

You can read the full filing below:

Click the square in the bottom right corner for full screen.

A status conference is scheduled for May 28.

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