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For week ended February 27, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Utah Senate Votes To Fight Polygamy
Associated Press 23Feb00 N5
By Paul Foy: Associated Press writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Utah Senate approved a bill Tuesday meant to assist the prosecution of crimes in polygamous groups. The 27-1 vote signals a strong commitment to stop abuses among polygamists in the wake of last year's Kingston child abuse trial. However, the bill may still be a long way from becoming law since the Utah House turned down a similar measure last month.

The bill appropriates $250,000 for prosecution of abuse and fraud among polygamists and gives an additional $250,000 for a polygamy hot line and emergency shelter for victims of the practice. Last year's Kingston trial focused much attention on polygamy, leading national news and entertainment outlets to continue their coverage of the practice since then.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Ron Allen, who says that the crimes addressed by the bill "go to the heart and soul of human rights. Certainly it is to our advantage to deal with these issues we have put off so long before the Olympics.'' Senate Minority Leader Scott Howell, a Democrat, said the secretive nature of polygamous societies makes special investigations necessary. "You need an expert to get at the heart of this terrible evil, where there are no civil rights, just dominance. Under this bill, we can only go after the abuses and fraud.''

Polygamy itself, while a crime under Utah law, has not been prosecuted since the disastrous 1954 Short Creek raid, in which families were torn apart, creating a public relations nightmare for Utah and Arizona, the states behind the raid.


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