Despite the open practice of polygamy in the towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, authorities have been careful how they pursue offenders.
In 1953, Arizona state police swarmed into Short Creek, now Colorado City. They arrested the men and transported crying women and children to detention camps. The result was a public outpouring of sympathy for the families — and scorn for state political leaders. The governor lost the next election.
Today, law enforcement officials are going after the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, by targeting child sexual abuse, welfare fraud and tax evasion rather than polygamy.
In 2003, Rodney Holm, a Colorado City police officer, was sentenced to a year in prison and three years of probation on charges of bigamy and unlawful sex with two girls, 16 and 17. Another FLDS member, Orson William Black Jr., was charged with child sex crimes and is still at large.