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Judge tosses Huntsman lawsuit against the LDS Church

Medical Marijuana Utah
Posted at 2:20 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 17:44:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge in California dismissed James Huntsman's high-profile lawsuit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, alleging fraud in tithing.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, Judge Stephen Wilson rejected all of Huntsman's claims. But he also rejected the Latter-day Saint church's assertion that the First Amendment barred Huntsman from bringing his lawsuit in the first place.

Huntsman, a member of the wealthy Utah family and the brother of former governor Jon Huntsman Jr., sued the Church alleging it misspent tithing money he donated throughout his membership in the faith. He resigned his membership in the Latter-day Saint faith in 2020.

He specifically alleged that tithing money was misspent to fund the posh City Creek Center project in downtown Salt Lake City. The Church has denied it.

Judge Wilson rejected Huntsman's claims, saying no reasonable juror could find that Latter-day Saint leaders made false statements about where the money for the project came from.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is grateful that the court has granted its motion for summary judgment. We are further grateful that the court agreed that the statements made by President Gordon B. Hinckley and other Church leaders are accurate as to the source of funding for the City Creek project," Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement to FOX 13.

Huntsman's attorney told FOX 13 they intended to appeal the judge's ruling.

"While we are obviously disappointed with Judge Wilson’s order, we look forward to vindicating Mr. Huntsman’s position in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," David Jonelis said.

Read the judge's ruling here: