September 28, 2010 by Post Team 

Bigamy, SALT LAKE CITY – An investigation of bigamy has been released in a polygamous family, starring in a reality TV show, police said Tuesday.

Lehi Police Lt. Darren Paul said the investigation was triggered by the reality show “wives, sisters,” with 41-year-old advertising salesman Kody Brown and his four wives, 13 children and three stepchildren. The TLC show premiered on Sunday.

Brown is only legally married to Meri Paul, but also calls for three other women of her spouse: Janelle, Christine and Robyn. All three are stepchildren of Robyn’s previous relationship.

Christine Brown declined to comment Tuesday, although the family issued a statement through TLC he was disappointed.

“… When we decided to do this show, I knew there would be risks,” the family said. “But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our children, we felt it was a worthwhile risk.”

The Browns have said they expected to watch the spectacle of reality in their lives help broaden public understanding of families in the plural.

Through Utah and parts of western United States, polygamy is a legacy of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members brought the practice to Utah in 1847, but the Mormon Church disavowed plural marriage in 1890 as part of a campaign for statehood for Utah.

The modern Mormon church excommunicated members who are involved in practice, although it is estimated that 38,000 self-described fundamentalist Mormons still believe and / or practice polygamy, believing it brings exaltation in heaven.

Although rarely prosecuted, bigamy is a third degree felony in Utah punishable by imprisonment up to five years. By law, a person can be convicted of bigamy by cohabitation, not only legal marriage contracts.

Lehi police said the evidence gathered by the probe will be delivered to the office of the Utah County Attorney for possible prosecution. A telephone message left for Paul was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Last trial of a polygamous Utah for bigamy in 2001. Tom Green, who was married to five women and drew the attention of the authorities in Utah after promoting their lifestyle on national TV negotiations, was convicted of nonsupport bigamy, criminal and child rape charges . He spent six years in prison and was released in 2007.

Most polygamists belong to no organized churches, but an advocacy group of polygamy has identified 11 different communities ranging in size from 150 to 10,000.

The attorney general’s office investigated the Utah state secret polygamous communities, but focused its efforts on cases involving allegations of abuse, sexual assault and fraud, not bigamy.

“It was the position of our office does not prosecute cases of bigamy between consenting adults,” said attorney general spokesman Scott Troxel, Tuesday. “We use our resources wisely.”

In the past 10 years, historically insular polygamous community in Utah has worked to educate the public and state agencies about their culture. State agencies and to better understand the unique aspects of culture and plural polygamous families are less reluctant to seek help when necessary, co-founder of Principle Voices of Anne Wilde said.

The Brown family’s decision to make a reality show was a sort of extension of this work of education, said Wilde, who knows the family. Research now fears cast a shadow over all progress and instill fear in plural families.

“If you really go to a court situation, then our people will go right back into isolation,” he said.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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