Jury selection under way in bigamy trial

Police officer accused of having sex with minor
Associated Press, Aug. 12, 2003
Debbie Hummel, Associated Press

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Attorneys began selecting jurors Monday for the trial of a police officer charged with bigamy and having sex with a minor.

Rodney Holm, 37, is accused of having sex with Ruth Stubbs when she was 16 years old.

Stubbs said she was the man’s third wife.

State law bans sexual relations involving 16- and 17-year-olds when their partner is 10 or more years older, unless they are legally married.

Holm was 32 when he is accused of taking Stubbs as a “spiritual” wife, which is not a legal marriage.

He is a police officer in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where most of the towns’ residents are members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

About 80 potential jurors were called to the 5th District Courthouse for the trial, about 25 more than are usually called, because of the high-profile nature of the case, court bailiff Brett Lyman said.

The potential jurors were called individually into a back room of the courtroom along with prosecutors Kristine Knowlton and Paul Graf and Holm’s attorneys, Rod Parker and Max Wheeler.

By 5 p.m., nine potential jurors had been chosen.

The court needs 19, which would allow each side to eliminate five. In the end, eight jurors and one alternate are needed for opening arguments to begin.

Stubbs’ sister, Pennie Stubbs Petersen, 33, of Phoenix, waited outside the courtroom Monday.

Petersen also was raised in Hildale and fled the community when she was 14. She said she left because she was told she was to become the fifth wife of a 48-year-old man.

“It’s hard. She’s got a lot of pressure from where she’s spent her whole life,” Petersen said. “They hope she’ll do the right thing and protect the town.”

The charges against Holm stem from a custody dispute between Holm and Stubbs. Stubbs left the relationship, taking their two children with her.

She was 8 months’ pregnant with their third baby at the time.

During the custody hearing, Holm invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when asked about having sexual relations with Stubbs when she was a teenager.

The bigamy and illegal sex charges were filed against Holm in October. The trial on those charges is expected to last through the week.

State officials are hinting that there will be more polygamy prosecutions.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday August 12, 2003.
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