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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 23, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 26Apr00

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 thing."

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."


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