Reuters, Aug. 25, 2002
By JAMES NELSON
SALT LAKE CITY – Polygamist Tom Green has spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of taking multiple wives. On Tuesday, he will learn what price he must pay for his lifestyle when he is sentenced for raping a minor – a girl he married when she was just 13 years of age.
The man who lived with five wives and 29 children and has gone on national television to talk about his life was convicted in June of raping Linda Kunz Green after he married her in 1986, when he was 37 and she was 13. The marriage produced a son, Melvin.
Green, 54, has been in prison since last year for a term of up to five years after being convicted of bigamy. The latest conviction could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
But while he has been a vocal advocate of multiple wives, his days are now spent quietly.
“He’s quite depressed, very sad,” said Green’s attorney, John Bucher. But Green still stands by his belief in creating a polygamist family, the lawyer said.
Linda Kunz Green and her son Melvin, now 15, are expected to take the stand before Green is sentenced.
In prepared statements filed with the court, relatives said Green never meant to commit a crime.
“Even though Tom and I made an error in judgement in 1986, our intent was not to commit a crime. We had a religious ceremony before we had sex in which we made lifetime commitments to each other. It was not a situation where Tom ‘knocked up’ some girl and then decided that he had better marry her,” Linda Kunz Green said in her letter.
“The most important thing to be considered now is the 29 children that need their father and what their future holds without him being there for them,” she wrote. In all, Tom Green has fathered 33 children.
Anti-polygamy groups say many people in rural Utah practice plural marriage, believing it adheres to the original guidance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – commonly called the Mormon church. Green holds such beliefs.
Polygamy was originally encouraged by Mormons, who settled in the Utah territory after fleeing religious persecution. But the church banned the practice in 1890 to win full statehood in the United States for Utah. Polygamists are now ex-communicated from the Mormon Church.
Melvin Green told the judge his father is not a criminal.
“To view me as the product of a crime hurts me. It makes me feel abnormal. I am very normal. I was a member of the West Desert High School basketball team. … I ran and was elected for the student body representative,” the youngster said.
The family no longer lives in the remote compound in Utah’s west desert where they lived at that time. With Green in prison, the women and children, struggling to make ends meet, have moved to the Salt Lake City area.
Prosecutor Leavitt said he has been meeting with some of the wives to determine their needs. “I have always seen these women as victims,” Leavitt told Reuters. He said private money has been raised, but declined to disclose details.
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