One of his wives, Linda Kunz, also claimed she now understands the error of his ways.
Green, 56, was convicted of first-degree felony rape for having married Kunz when she was 13 and was sentenced to five years to life in prison. He also was sentenced to zero-to-five-year terms on four counts of bigamy for having four other wives.
Green has served two years in prison after spending one year in jail while the case was pending. Parole guidelines suggest Green should serve six years and three months before he is released, but the actual time served is up to the parole board, which now has 45 days to decide whether to parole him.
The convictions are under appeal.
Parole board Chairman Michael Sibbett asked during Thursday’s hearing at the prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper what Green would tell his own 13- and 14-year-old daughters if one of them wanted to marry a man 25 years her senior.
“I would tell them they were not (to do it), as far as I could prevent it,” Green answered. “And the man would have to seek some help (therapy).”
Sibbett asked Green where this change in attitude came from.
“From the great opportunity I’ve had in the last two years to do a lot of thinking and reflecting,” said Green, who wept quietly during the 40-minute hearing. “It has been a very eye-opening experience and a wake-up call.”
Green said his family is paying the price for the choices he made.
“We shouldn’t delude ourselves with vain crusades or fancy ourselves victims or persecuted minorities to justify the things we’ve just made up our minds to do,” Green said.
As the supposed victim, Kunz, now 32 and the mother of seven children, was allowed to speak at the hearing. In the past, she had maintained that she was not a victim.
“I feel like this experience of Tom’s incarceration has been very beneficial to all of us and has helped Tom in many ways to change things and become a better person,” Kunz said Thursday. “I forgive Tom for what he’s done. I still love him very much and I still want to continue to raise together the family that he and I have built. I very much need his help.”
Green plans to live with Kunz at her Springville home, if released.
Sibbett said later, “I don’t know who else besides the kids (and Kunz) are in the house. If he is in a marriage relationship with more than one woman, that would be a violation of state law and his parole.”
Sibbett chided Green for having lived his polygamist life so publicly, appearing on numerous national television programs, thereby bringing himself to the attention of prosecutors.
Polygamy was brought to Utah by Mormon pioneers, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice when it was a barrier to statehood, and it now excommunicates members who advocate it.
It is estimated there are about 30,000 polygamists, some of them on their own and others belonging to sects that contend the church leaders were wrong to abandon polygamy.
Polygamists have been prosecuted on and off over the past century, with efforts stepped up in recent years primarily over concerns of underage and forced marriages and welfare cheating. That was one of the allegations against Green — that he cheated the state of $54,000 in child support for 28 children after his wives sought public assistance. He has paid $20,000 restitution so far.