Constitutional Law

Utah AG Mulled Texas-Style Raid on Polygamous Group

  • Print

In the wake of a controversial raid by Texas authorities on a ranch at which multiple teens allegedly may have been sexually abused by a fringe Mormon group promoting underage “spiritual” marriages and polygamy, the Utah attorney general says he, too, considered such an action concerning a polygamous group there.

About a year and a half ago, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff tells a local ABC News affiliate, 80 warrants had been issued by Utah courts and he was “gearing up” to serve them on the Kingston family, a 1,500-member group in the Salt Lake City area. A decade ago, the Kingstons were a big name in the news after a 16-year-old complained about being “married” to her 32-year-old uncle as his 15th wife, and he was charged with incest and unlawful sexual conduct. (The teen’s father was accused of beating her when she rebelled over the relationship.)

Shurtleff says he considered going into a church meeting, barring the doors, and collecting evidence—including DNA swabs that could be used to prove familial relationships and possible incest.

In the end, though, “We elected not to do that to try and work with their attorney,” the AG says. “And, of course, the result of that was all our subjects disappeared, our targets disappeared and we didn’t get the warrants served like we hoped to do.”

Earlier coverage:

Associated Press: “Raids Have Strengthened Polygamous Sect”

Associated Press: “Shurtleff says he almost raided polygamous clan”

CNN (1998): “Polygamy or abuse? Utah case stirs controversy”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.