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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 23, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 20Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Self-proclaimed polygamist charged with child rape, bigamy
Boston Globe (AP) 19Apr00 N5
By C.G. Wallace: Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Juab County Attorney David Leavitt announced yesterday that he has charged polygamist Thomas Arthur Green, 51, with child rape, bigamy and failure to pay child support. The charges represent only the fourth time that polygamy has been prosecuted since the infamous Short Creek in 1953.

Green has gained prominence since the Kingston incident for his public defense of polygamy on television. He appeared on NBC's "Dateline" and on the "Jerry Springer Show" where he faced off against anti-polygamy activist and former polygamous wife, Rowenna Ericson.

Leavitt, a younger brother of Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, said he has investigated Green since his television appearances last year, "I only became aware of Mr. Green myself after he appeared on national television," he said. Last summer Leavitt promised to file charges against Green, who has five current and two former wives and 29 children.

The child rape charge against Green comes from an alleged relationship with a 13-year-old girl, with whom he had a child, according to Leavitt. Green married some of his wives when they were just 14, according to the charges. The child rape charge carries a maximum life sentence, while the bigamy and non-support charges each have maximum five-year terms.

Because of Leavitt's public promise, Green has been expecting the charges, says his attorney, John Bucher. He suggests that Green was singled out for prosecution because of his public profile. Bucher has told Green not to speak to the media, because he says Green may say too much, "He's very much too open. He's too eager to talk, and he's gotten in trouble for it," said Bucher.

But Leavitt may not have an easy time of prosecuting Green for bigamy. It is difficult to establish the charge without the cooperation of someone living in the home testifying, and Green's wives will not cooperate, according to their attorney, Bill Morrison. "They would rather go to prison than see their husband go to prison," he said. "I think it's a matter of destroying their family through auspices of the state, and they won't cooperate in the least." Leavitt has declined to bring charges against the wives, however. "Maybe they don't see themselves as victims, but I believe they are. They certainly could be charged, but I have chosen not to."

But anti-polygamy activists hope that this could be a landmark case, opening the door to widespread prosecution of polygamists, "The Berlin Wall of polygamy is tumbling down and the Tom Green case is just the beginning," said Vicky Prunty, director of the anti-polygamy group Tapestry of Polygamy. The group is currently defending a defamation lawsuit brought against them by Green.


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