Tom Green has five wives and 33 children. But they will have to visit or write to the polygamist in prison for at least the next four years. A Utah judge has sent Green to prison for having sex with a minor child.

Green’s former child bride of 13 now 30, tearfully testified on her husband’s behalf. But neither her tears nor seven children fathered by Green swayed the court, as reported by Reuters.

The judge said, “We should do everything possible to protect children.” And the prosecutor added, “A 37-year-old man having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl is never justified.”

There are thousands of polygamists living in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Most are gathered in cult-like submission beneath patriarchal leaders, such as Rulon Jeffs. But it is unlikely someone like Jeffs, who has 19 wives and fathered more than 60 children will ever find himself in a courtroom. It seems Mr. Green has become the designated “poster boy” for polygamy.

Green, unlike most polygamists, is not historically tied to the practice. Instead, he is a self-styled practitioner and seemingly as much a sexual predator as a religionist.

But many polygamists are carrying on family traditions that go back more than a century. They consider themselves “Mormon fundamentalists,” which means they believe that their lifestyle expresses the original and fundamental teachings of their faith first established by Joseph Smith and carried forward by Brigham Young. Both men were polygamists. Smith allegedly had 42 wives and it is said Young had 50. The Mormon Church did not officially end polygamy until 1890, as a prerequisite for Utah to achieve statehood.

This history leaves many Mormons ambivalent about polygamy, though persistent polygamists are an embarrassment to the church that is very image conscious. However, women and children often suffer through polygamy and it’s taxpayers who frequently pick up the bill to support their large families and essentially subsidize the practice, through public welfare and assistance programs.

It is doubtful polygamy will end abruptly anytime soon. The prosecution of polygamist gadfly Tom Green, though justified, seems more like a “show trial” than the beginning of the end for polygamist abuses. But it is good to know that there is one less pedophile on the streets.


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