The polygamist family at the center of the new TLC reality television series Sister Wives are now the subject of a criminal investigation. Yesterday, following Sunday’s debut of Sister Wives, police in Lehi, Utah, where the show is set, announced they are investigating Kody Brown and his four wives for possible charges of bigamy.
Sister Wives focuses on Brown, his four wives—Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn—and his 13 children and three step-children. The family has said they are participating in the show to bring more public awareness to polygamist families and fight societal prejudices.
Brown has claimed the arrangement is not illegal because he is only legally married to Meri, and the other marriages are only spiritual unions. However, Lehi police said yesterday that state laws identify bigamy through cohabitation, not just legal contracts. The department plans to turn their findings over to the Utah Attorney General’s office at the conclusion of their investigation.
TLC contacted the state attorney general’s office before the series was broadcast in anticipation of potential legal issues. The office has not explicitly stated they will not charge the Browns, but has stated they do not have the resources to prosecute polygamists unless they are suspected of serious crimes, like child abuse and child trafficking.
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