SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has asked a federal judge to toss a lawsuit over millions in tithing dollars brought by a member of a high-profile Utah family.
In a formal response filed in U.S. District Court in California, attorneys for the Latter-day Saint faith deny the allegations leveled by James Huntsman.
"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," Church attorney Rick Richmond wrote.
(A "prayer for relief" is a common legal term used at the end of a lawsuit to list demands.)
Huntsman, the brother of former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr., filed the bombshell lawsuit in March claiming that he gave millions in tithing to the Latter-day Saint faith. However, he alleges that instead of going to charity and faith works, it went to commercial properties like the City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
"This is not a case about faith; it is a case about fraud and corporate greed," Huntsman's lawsuit stated, accusing Church leaders of lying to members about the use of their tithing dollars.
The Church's response to the lawsuit is largely succinct. Line by line, it denies Huntsman's claims and declares some of his allegations to be "editorial comments."
"The Church admits that Church agents stated that no tithing would be used to develop City Creek and avers [asserts] that those statements were true," Richmond wrote.
It also questions how much Huntsman actually gave in tithing.
"The Church denies that Mr. Huntsman donated 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,'" it states.
Huntsman wants at least $5 million if he prevails in the lawsuit, declaring he will take the money and donate it to charities "supporting LGBTQ, African-American, and women’s rights."
Read the response by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here: