Polygamist wins parole from Utah State Prison
DRAPER, Utah - A polygamist serving up to a life term for having sex with his first wife when she was 13 years old will be granted parole from the Utah State Prison.
Tom Green will be freed Aug. 7, 2007, after spending six years behind bars, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole said Thursday.
The jail term will be just shy of the six years and three months suggested by parole guidelines for Green, who was sent to prison for up to life for a child rape conviction for "marrying" and having sex with his first wife, Linda Kunz. Green, now 56, also was sentenced to zero-to-five-year terms on four counts of bigamy for having four other wives.
He also was convicted of criminal non-support for stealing thousands of dollars in child welfare payments from the state.
Kunz, now 32, was 13 years old when she married Green, who was 37.
At the time, he espoused his own brand of fundamentalist religion that included polygamy.
At his parole hearing two weeks ago, Green denounced polygamy and claimed he would never let his own 13-year-old daughter - one of 32 children - marry a man 25 years her senior.
"If there was any message to come out of this hearing, it would be that you cannot just marry children, regardless of your religious affiliations," said parole board Chairman Michael Sibbett on Thursday.
He will be supervised by parole officers, and any inappropriate contact with underage girls or with women other than Kunz, with whom he plans to live, could revoke his parole.
Polygamy was brought to Utah by Mormon pioneers, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice when it was a barrier to statehood, and it now excommunicates members who advocate it.
It is estimated there are about 30,000 polygamists living in the West. Some polygamists live by themselves and others belong to sects that contend Mormon church leaders were wrong to abandon polygamy.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the mainstream church, practices polygamy as a central tenet. The church has an estimated 10,000 members living in the twin border communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
Polygamists have been prosecuted on and off over the past century, with efforts stepped up in recent years primarily over concerns of underage and forced marriages and welfare cheating.
That was one of the allegations against Green - that he cheated the state of $54,000 in child support after his wives sought public assistance. He has paid $20,000 restitution so far.