States turn up heat on polygamists

The Arizona Republic/October 15, 2003

The use of civil litigation is one of a handful of pressures now being applied on polygamists and their communities in Arizona and Utah.

The attorneys general in both states are coming together to crack down on polygamy-related crimes. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard confirmed last month that he has a lawyer and an investigator looking full time into the polygamist community of Colorado City, a town of 6,000 that sits on the Arizona line directly across from Hildale, Utah.

Other recent developments include:

"A Utah jury in August convicted former Colorado City police Officer Rodney Holm of bigamy and unlawful sex with a minor he took as a "spiritual wife." The 16-year-old was Holm's third wife, though they were not legally married.

"A new bestseller, Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jonathan Krakauer and a recent four-page spread in People magazine have drawn national attention to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its polygamous lifestyle.

"Officials in both states are looking into welfare fraud allegations, and the Arizona Auditor General's Office is investigating possible misuse of public funds in a Colorado City school district.

"County and state officials on both sides of the Arizona-Utah line have announced their intention to establish a new presence in the community that could include independent law enforcement, welfare and tax support offices, a Children's Justice Center and women's protective services. State funds for the facility have not been allocated, however.

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