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The BBC's David Willis in Utah
"Tom Green's lifestyle has outraged many but he is not lacking support"
 real 56k

Saturday, 19 May, 2001, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Jury convicts Utah polygamist
The wives of Utah polygamist Tom Green
Green's wives live with him in a trailer compound in Utah
A jury has found a prominent Utah polygamist guilty on four counts of bigamy for being married to five women at the same time.


I think it's wrong... I just can't imagine

Tom Green
The jury of five women and three men also found Tom Green guilty of one count of failing to pay child support.

The verdict in what is believed to be the first US polygamy trial for nearly 50 years was handed down in the middle of Friday night.

Sentencing will take place next month. He could serve up to 25 years in prison and pay fines fines of up to $25,000.

Tom Green, 52, lives with his five wives - three of them pregnant - and 25 of his 29 children in a trailer compound in Utah, the traditional home of the once-polygamous Mormon church.

Four of his wives were in court to support him; the fifth went into labour on the eve of his trial.

As spectators in the courtroom strained to hear the jury's verdict, some of his family members could be heard crying.

'Scapegoat'

Tom Green, disheartened, is planning to appeal. "I think it's wrong," he said, adding that he believed jurors were swayed by emotion.

Tom Green
Tom Green says he has been made a scapegoat
He came to the authorities' attention after appearing on a series of TV chat shows including Dateline NBC and Jerry Springer to defend his unorthodox lifestyle.

The prosecution maintained he had embarked on a crusade to spread and promote polygamy.

Mr Green says his prosecution was a politically motivated effort to clean up Utah's image ahead of next year's Winter Olympics.

There are an estimated 30,000 polygamists living in the western United States, but only a handful have ever been charged.

Although Utah banned plural marriage in its Constitution in order to become a state, it has no specific anti-polygamy law on the books.

Tom Green has been excommunicated from the Mormon Church, which originally embraced polygamy but banned it in 1890.

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See also:

14 May 01 | Americas
Polygamy on trial in Utah
29 Feb 00 | Africa
Polygamist marries 100 times
11 Dec 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
Polygamy thrives in Utah
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