Polygamist Tom Green out of prison: Now what?
Two sons of polygamist Tom Green picked him up early Tuesday morning as he left the Utah State Prison after six years behind bars.
Green was released from the prison complex in Draper at 6:40 a.m., eluding TV news crews. His first stop: a parole office, where he was to review conditions of his release.
Waiting for him at home were his legal wife, Linda Kunz Green, at least 20 of his 30 children and three women he considers "spiritual wives."
Green's biggest challenge now may be crafting an ongoing relationship with those three women without falling afoul of Utah's unique bigamy statute.
Green said he would avoid future bigamy allegations by residing only with his legal wife. The law defines bigamy as marrying, cohabiting or purporting to be married when you already have a spouse - acting as a married couple.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has said Utah won't prosecute consenting adults who engage in polygamous relationships. But days before Green's release, Shurtleff said that doesn't apply in his case.
"He was also convicted of bigamy. We feel it should be violation of parole if he continues a relationship with them," Shurtleff said.
Green, 59, had asked that arrangements be made so he could avoid the news media as he left prison. Officials agreed - mostly because of concern about exposure of other parolees to unwanted attention, according to prison spokesman Jack Ford.
Green declined to be interviewed.
"No, thank you," he wrote to The Tribune. "As I said at my board hearing: I want only to live a quiet, private life being a father to my children."
Green also released a statement Tuesday that was distributed by prison officials, saying his incarceration had been "beneficial" and that he'd learned a lot from life-skills classes and therapy.
"I believe that the officers and staff do a good job taking care of inmates, especially considering the challenges they're faced with here," Green's statement said. "I'm very grateful to the people of the state of Utah for all they have done to help prepare myself, and other inmates, to not reoffend and to function appropriately in society."
Green was convicted in 2001 and 2002 of bigamy, criminal nonsupport and child rape for fathering a child with Kunz Green, his stepdaughter, when she was 13.
Green plans to live in one unit of a "quadplex" in Springville with Kunz Green. The other women live in the adjoining units. Twenty of his 30 or so children still live with their mothers.
A fifth spiritual wife left Green while he was in prison; the pardons board has barred Green from having contact with her or their five children as a condition of his parole unless so ordered by a court.
He completed his sentence for the bigamy and nonsupport charges in prison. Green will remain under state supervision on the rape charge for at least three years - unless Adult Probation and Parole requests and the state Board of Pardons and Parole grants an earlier termination of his parole and sentence.
He must register as a sex offender, complete additional mental health therapy and pay $34,420 in restitution for state aid his family received.
Before his conviction in 2001, Green scratched out a living for his large family as a paralegal and by selling magazine subscriptions.
In prison, he worked in the Greenthumb Program, earning 60 cents an hour as a bookkeeper. He did a ''really good job,'' Ford said.
The pardons board refused to require Green to complete additional sex-offender therapy or to place any conditions on his living arrangements, as requested by Adult Probation and Parole at a July 17 hearing.
But the hearing illustrated the conundrum both Green and the state now face.
Board member Keith Hamilton, who oversaw the hearing, questioned what legitimate interest the state has in whether Green has ''extramarital affairs,'' particularly if his wife knows about them.
Asked if he considers the other women his wives, Green responded:
"In the spiritual sense, yes, because of the commitment and obligation we have," Green said. ''In a legal sense, they are simply ladies who live next door who have had children with me in the past.''
He pointed out that the women have not asked to be released from him - the equivalent of a divorce in a plural marriage - though they've had "six years to do whatever they wish."
All four women are now in their late 30s.
But Green and his legal wife also said they will do whatever it takes to avoid a return to prison.
"This is about coming back to father 20 children that have been six years without the financial and emotional support of a father," Linda Kunz Green said during the July hearing.
The six years without Green, she said, were ''a very big struggle for us ladies as the mothers to carry on our own. . . . The children need their father.''