Utah won’t prosecute ‘Sister Wives,’ seeks dismissal of polygamy lawsuit

Posted at 4:05 PM, May 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-31 18:42:28-04

SALT LAKE CITY –Utah’s Attorney General is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a reality TV polygamist and his wives challenging the state’s polygamy ban, arguing they won’t be prosecuted for bigamy.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, the Utah County Attorney revealed he would not prosecute Kody Brown and his four wives for bigamy.

“As Utah County Attorney, I have now adopted a formal office policy not to prosecute the practice of bigamy unless the bigamy occurs in conjunction with another crime or a person under the age of 18 was a party to the bigamous marriage or relationship,” Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman wrote in an affidavit.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the state, argued that because of Buhman’s new position on the topic, the Brown family’s lawsuit is moot.

Brown and his wives were under investigation by Lehi police shortly after starring on the TLC series “Sister Wives,” a reality show that documents their lives. They have sought to overturn Utah’s ban on polygamy, citing privacy and religious freedom issues.

After the police investigation began, the Brown family moved to Nevada.

In a posting on a blog he keeps, Brown family attorney Jonathan Turley said he was “relieved” they would not be prosecuted, but he would not drop the lawsuit against Utah.

“The family has spent years being publicly denounced as felons by prosecutors and had to move to Nevada to protect their family and children. While I am pleased that the prosecutors are now promising to leave this family alone, the decision will not end our challenge to the state law,” he wrote.

The Brown family also issued a statement:

We are obviously delighted by the news that the prosecutors have formally declared that the investigation of our family is at an end. We have spent years under investigation and ultimately had to move from the state of Utah to protect our family and particularly our children. The decision to create the new policy in light of our lawsuit is wonderful news for not just ourselves but the many thousands of members of plural families in Utah. We are deeply grateful to Professor Jonathan Turley and his legal team who have stood beside us over these difficult years. We are committed to seeking a final review of this law before the federal court and we are excited about the filing of the Motion for Summary Judgment that was filed today on our behalf by Professor Turley and local counsel Adam Alba. While our fight will continue for equal rights for plural families in this case, the termination of this investigation is the answer to our prayers to live without fear of prosecution because of our faith.

The Kody Brown Family