Entries in Polygomist (2)


'Sister Wives' Family Plans to Challenge Polygamy Law

PRNewsFoto/TLC(SALT LAKE CITY) -- The polygamist family portrayed on the TLC reality show Sister Wives said all along its main goal in going on national television was to gain public acceptance of its lifestyle. Now family patriarch Kody Brown, his four wives and 16 children and stepchildren are moving from the court of public opinion to the court of law, arguing that criminalizing their lifestyle is unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, the Browns are expected to file a federal lawsuit to challenge the polygamy law in their home state of Utah, where they came under investigation for violating the state law that prohibits polygamy.

Brown and his four wives -- Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn -- moved their family to Las Vegas earlier this year, in part, they told ABC News, to escape the criminal investigation.

"We didn't want this thing hanging over us," Brown, a salesman, told ABC News last March. "We went to Vegas with hopes of having a good life, preserving the family...We never did anything here at all to be rebellious, to challenge the statutes of the law or anything like that."

"We still have our family," Robyn, Brown's fourth wife, said. "That's all it boils down to."

Police in Lehi, Utah, launched an investigation into the Brown family's lifestyle last September for a possible charge of bigamy after TLC initially announced the show Sister Wives. Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah and punishable by up to five years in prison.

As reported by The New York Times, the Browns' purported lawsuit does not demand that states recognize polygamous marriage but asks that federal courts tell states they cannot punish polygamists for their "intimate behavior" so long as they are not breaking other laws, such as child abuse or incest.

The Browns are members of the Apostolic United Brethren Church, a fundamentalist break from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormon Church -- which officially banned polygamy more than 100 years ago as Utah sought statehood.

In making their case, the Browns argue that making polygamous unions illegal violates the free exercise, establishment, free speech and freedom of association clauses of the First Amendment, and the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The Browns have faced no allegations of incest, child abuse or child brides, despite the inquiries into their lifestyle, something that could help their case in court.

A ruling in the Brown's favor would affect tens of thousands of people in polygamous families in the United States.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Admitted Teen Rapist Gets Slap on Wrist

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. GEORGE, Utah) -- A follower of Warren Jeffs who admitted during the trial of the polygamist sect leader that he had sex with his child bride cousin will get off with just 30 days in jail as a result of a plea deal.

Allen Steed, who was originally charged with first degree felony rape, pleaded guilty to a charge of solemnizing a prohibited marriage, and a St. George, Utah, judge Friday sentenced him to 30 days, followed by 36 months of probation.

Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham ordered Steed to report Monday to Washington County's Purgatory Correctional Facility.

If he does not violate the probation, another charge of unlawful sex with a minor will be dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor, sparing him from having to register as a sex offender, the judge said.

Steed, who was 19 in 2001 when Jeffs married him to his 14-year-old cousin, could have faced five years in prison for each of the two charges. Had he been convicted of the original rape charge, he could have been sent to prison for life.

Jeffs, who was the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was convicted in September 2007 of being an accessory to rape for marrying the couple and then coercing the young girl to fulfill her religious duties by having sex with her husband.

That verdict was overturned on appeal, but while Utah prosecutors decide whether to retry Jeffs, the former FLDS leader is jailed in Texas, where he faces trial in July on charges of sexual abuse of a child and bigamy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio