From: <CEvans1950@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 19:47:51 EDT


I think there is a huge difference between the crime of bigamy which, at least in a "civialin" sense, implies that somene has married two or more folks (without divorcing the first one) by subterfuge and dishonestly.

But polygamy is often a voluntary multiple marriage of all "adult volunteers" who know what they're getting into. That is not the governments business. In the case of sneak-behind-the-back type bigamy there is an element of fraud and deceit and it makes some sense for there to be sanctions against such behavior.

Involuntary anything for anybody of any age is not to be tolerated though.


Newsweek Article....08/10/1998

Charges of abuse and polygamy roil Utah
By Andrew Murr

When the darkhaired 16-year-old girl straggled into the Chevron station in rural Box Elder County, Utah, to call 911, her back, arms and legs were badly bruised and her face was bloodied. Box Elder County sheriff's deputies who took that call on May 24 heard a grim story. The girl said she had run away from home a few days earlier, infuriating her father, John Daniel Kingston.

He reportedly caught her at her mother's house, forced her into a car and drove 90 miles north from Salt Lake City to a remote family ranch, punching her in the face once along the way. ("I could taste blood from my nose," the girl said at a preliminary hearing last month.)

In a barn at the compound he allegedly whipped her more than 20 times with a wide leather belt -- "10 licks for every wrongdoing," she says she heard him say before she passed out from the pain. Her principal "wrongdoing"? The girl said she'd run away from a husband she'd been forced to marry at the age of 15. David Ortell Kingston had made her his 15th wife; he is also her uncle.

Utah banned polygamy as a precondition of statehood in 1890, but the practice of taking multiple wives has never disappeared. With the 2002 Olympics focusing more and more attention on the state, politicians are having to own up to a sordid state secret they've ignored for decades.

John Daniel Kingston is a high-ranking member of the Kingston group, one of four large fundamentalist Mormon sects that practice polygamy, arranged marriages and, as in the runaway teen's case, sanctioned incest. (A lawyer for the Kingstons did not return NEWSWEEK's calls.)

The clan, which calls itself the Davis County Cooperative, has 1,500 members who live just outside the capital of Salt Lake City and run a $150 million business network. Authorities and ex-members say that girls as young as 14 are encouraged to get married, often to older men with many wives (they seek a civil marriage license only once; later brides are taken in private religious ceremonies).

John Daniel Kingston pleaded not guilty last week to a charge of felony child abuse, and he's free on a $10,000 bond. The girl is in the custody of the state and preparing to return to high school in the fall. But anti-polygamy activists are just getting started.

Many Utah officials still put polygamy in a class with adultery: regrettable, immoral, but difficult to prosecute. "These people have religious freedoms," Gov. Mike Leavitt told reporters, adding that most of the polygamists he knew growing up in southern Utah were "for the most part hard-working, good people."

His statement infuriated women's groups, particularly a newly formed organization of former plural wives calling themselves Tapestry of Polygamy. "You have publicly implied that you have no intentions of enforcing anti-polygamy and bigamy laws," said executive director Vicky Prunty. "We demand action." Whether they'll get it is still uncertain.

By last week Leavitt had backtracked and vowed to prosecute, and the state's Attorney General Jan Graham issued a statement that read, in part: "The claim of religious freedom is no defense to the crimes of statutory rape, incest, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, child abuse or cohabitant abuse." The A.G.'s office is now setting up a polygamy task force. But the most difficult task of all will be cracking the code of silence that keeps the Kingston group flourishing just a few miles from the statehouse.

Newsweek 8/10/98 Nation/The West: Secrets in the Desert


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