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Judge tosses lawsuit against Mormon church use of donations

September 14, 2021 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge tossed out a lawsuit filed by James Huntsman, a member of one of Utah’s most prominent families and brother of a former governor, against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a ruling issued Tuesday.

Huntsman had accused the Utah-based faith known widely as the Mormon church of fraud and sought to recover millions of dollars in contributions, saying the church spent donations solicited for charity on commercial purposes. Judge Stephen Wilson rejected Huntsman’s claims and said that no reasonable juror would believe that Latter-day Saint leaders made false statements about how tithing funds would be used.

In a lawsuit filed in March, Huntsman said he was defrauded out of millions during the 24 years he gave 10% of his annual income to the church. He is the brother of former U.S. diplomat and ex-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and son of late billionaire philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr.

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He alleged that the church has “repeatedly and publicly lied” about the use of billions of dollars in contributions meant to pay for missionary work, temples and other educational and charitable work.

Church spokesperson Eric Hawkins said the church is “grateful” the judge granted its motion for summary judgment in a statement Tuesday.

Huntsman’s attorney David Jonelis said they intend to appeal the ruling.