Summarized by Kent Larsen
Utah House Nixes Bill To Fight Crimes By Polygamists
Salt Lake Tribune 28Jan00 D5
By Dan Harrie: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Utah State House debated a proposed
anti-polygamy law on Thursday before rejecting it, saying that the
bill singles out polygamists. Legislators said that the state of Utah
shouldn't discriminate against polygamists.
Representative Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley City, sponsored the
legislation, which would have provided the Utah Attorney General's
office with $200,000 to fight crimes common among polygamous groups,
including incest, sexual abuse, welfare and tax fraud and failure to
pay child support. The bill would also have provided for a special
prosecutor to fight these crimes.
But most Utah legislators were uncomfortable with the legislation,
saying that it singled out polygamists. "I don't agree with (the
polygamist) lifestyle," said Rep. Marlon Snow, R-Orem. Snow says he
has employed 60-70 polygamists in his construction firm, and found
them trustworthy. "They never ask for anything," he said.
But sponsor Bigelow tried to distance his bill from its image as an
attack on polygamy, "This is not about prosecuting polygamy," he said.
He said that some people in polygamist communities are particularly
vulnerable, and the Attorney General doesn't have the resources to
help them. He said the bill could be used in other cases where there
is a tendency to abuse children and commit welfare fraud. But Bigelow
admits he doesn't know of other groups that do this.
The issue came to light in early 1998 with the arrest of David Ortel
Kingston, who was found guilty in June of two charges of incest with
his niece. Kingston was married to the 16-year-old girl under the
polygamous Kingston clan's customs. The girl's father (and David
Kingston's brother) plead no-contest to third-degree felony child
abuse for belt-whipping the girl when she fled her 'marriage.'
But legislators hesitate because of the black-eye polygamy prosecution
received in the 1950s because of the infamous 'Short Creek Raid.' In
the raid, Utah and Arizona lawmen descended on the Short Creek
community that straddled the Utah-Arizona border, arresting nearly all
men in t he community and putting all the children into the Arizona
foster care system. The raid received widespread criticism for
breaking up families.
House kills bill targeting polygamists
Deseret News 28Jan00 N5
By Bob Bernick Jr.: Deseret News staff writer
Measure would have allotted funds to fight crime among groups