Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Is Honeymoon Over for Bigamy?
Salt Lake Tribune 23Apr00 N5
By Greg Burton: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Thomas Arthur Green, a prominent Utah
polygamist, was charged on April 17 with four counts of bigamy for
co-habitating with four women while legally married to a fifth.
Green was also charged with a sex crime for allegedly fathering a
child with one of his "wives" when she was only l3-years-old and the
felony non-support of some of his 29 children. If convicted, Green,
51, could serve the remainder of his life in prison.
The question of consensual cohabitation as a punishable offense is being
debated by Juab County District Attorney David O. Leavitt. Leavitt, is the
younger brother of Gov. Mike Leavitt. He began investigating Green last
year when the polygamist appeared on NBC's "Dateline" when two members of
the Kingston family were being prosecuted for sexual child abuse.
Green believes he is part of a larger philosophical battle over the
legality of polygamy. He sees himself as being a religious martyr, who
will stand trial as an old-style polygamist and face a showdown over Utah's
104-year constitutional ban on polygamy. The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints renounced the practice of plural marriage in 1890 and will
excommunicate any members who practice polygamy.
Owen Allred, the polygamist leader of the United Apostolic Brethren,
fears that over 30,000 members of families will be torn apart in the
Intermountain West. "If we aren't doing anything contrary or unreasonable,
they shouldn't be justified in using these laws," Allred said.
"This is the terrible thing about polygamy -- there are so many innocent
lives that are being drowned in a terrible sin," said Congressional
candidate, Sen. Scott N. Howell, D-Sandy. "This thing has just gone on too
long, it is too convoluted, too immoral and it's hurting too many innocent
people," Howell said. "David Leavitt is my hero."
Recently, Leavitt and Utah Rep. David L. Zolman, R-Taylorsville, drove to
Green's secluded outpost to discuss the challenge facing them. "I want a
broader approach," Zolman said. "We have 100 years of neglect and hostility
[toward polygamists] and none of that has worked. We must try something
else, but I don't know what that is going to be. This is not an easy
Leavitt must prove Green was legally married to one woman while
co-habitating with the others in order to win a bigamy conviction. Leavitt
has petitioned the court to declare Green's marriage to one of his "wives"
legal since 1990. Bill Morrison, attorney to Green's wives, has refused the
offer of immunity for the wives' testimonies. "Because it is a volatile
issue and Mr. Leavitt is Gov. Leavitt's brother, [David Leavitt] feels
particularly encouraged or required to take a position that enforces this
particular law," Morrison said.
"This will open the floodgates," said Tapestry co-founder Rowenna
Erickson. "This is the first brick to fall in the Berlin Wall of polygamy."
"I haven't seen any indication that there is [a statewide effort to charge
all polygamists], said Carl E. Kinston, an attorney for the Kingston family.
"I don't know what [David Leavitt's] motives might be, but it may be from
neighbors and it may just be from Tapestry."