Utah polygamist ordered to stand trial

Reuters, June 29, 2000

SALT LAKE CITY, (Reuters) - A judge Thursday ordered an alleged polygamist to stand trial next month on charges of child rape and criminal non-support, after viewing tapes of the defendant's TV appearances promoting multiple marriages. Thomas Green, 51, who has made numerous television appearances speaking about his five wives and 25 children, is scheduled to enter a plea on July 11, in Nephi, Utah, the clerk of the fourth district court said.

Green has also been charged with four counts of bigamy, but Judge Donald Eyre said he would render a written ruling on the bigamy charges at a later date.

Green's wives accompanied him to Thursday's preliminary hearing. "We want our family to stay together" one of the wives, Linda, said.

Juab County Prosecutor David O. Leavitt has used Green's television appearances in recent months to demonstrate the defendant's alleged guilt. "All I can say is that whenever someone confesses to commission of a felony on national television in my jurisdiction I'm going to prosecute him," Leavitt, who is the brother of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, said.

Green's appearances on "Judge Judy," "The Jerry Springer Show" and "Dateline" were played in the courtroom on Thursday.

"I don't think I'm going to be convicted of anything," Green told reporters. "The only thing I'm guilty of is building a family".

The state of Utah distanced itself from the practice of polygamy in 1896 upon gaining statehood. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is formally known, disavowed polygamy in 1890 and excommunicates members who practice it.

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