Woman faces polygamy charges

Associated Press, Oct. 15, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY – For apparently the first time in more than 100 years, Utah prosecutors are going after a woman on

And there is no known case over the past century in which a woman was charged with entering into a polygamous marriage or inducing someone else to do so, according to Martha Bradley, an author and researcher on polygamy in Utah.

Anti-polygamists said the case was long overdue.

“It is not only holding the man responsible but holding the other adults in the home responsible for not reporting child abuse,” said Flora Jessop, a Phoenix anti-polygamy activist and former plural wife.

Polygamy persists throughout the West with an estimated 30,000 practitioners.

The Holms belong to the Tapestry Against Polygamy, an organization started by former polygamist wives, agreed plural wives are victims but said they still bear responsibility.

“Why not charge them?” Erickson asked. “Maybe this will help the women to wake up and say, ‘I’m accountable.’ś”

Rodney Holm is accused of having sex with the 16-year-old at least three times. State law bans sex involving 16- and 17-year-olds when the partner is 10 or more years older, unless the couple is legally married.

The Holms’ attorney, Rod Parker, who also represents the Fundamentalist church, said that Holm’s marriage to the girl was not forced, and that the girl’s parents consented to the arrangement. Though not legally married, they considered their 1998 wedding valid according to their faith.

Prosecutors say that the girl’s older sister told her it was her godly duty to marry Holm.

The girl was warned that she would “burn in hell” if she refused to marry Holm, her attorney, Bill Walker, told The Salt Lake Tribune. Walker told the newspaper that the girl, who has since left Holm, was coerced by the church’s late leader, Rulon Jeffs.

Suzie Holm’s prosecution is “a groundbreaking case,” Jessop said. “People don’t understand this has nothing to do with religion. It’s a human rights violation, a civil rights violation.”

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