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'Sister Wives' star loses her job

Published October 15, 2010 11:34 am

TV • Polygamous wife Meri Brown says she was fired from her job in mental health industry.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The fallout continues for the Brown family of TLC's "Sister Wives."

After the cable television series debuted Sept. 26, Meri Brown, of Lehi, lost her job.

"They felt that they needed to protect the company, I think," Meri said in an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that aired Thursday. "It actually makes me really sad because I loved my job. It breaks my heart, definitely. ... But I understand where they're coming from."

"Sister Wives" chronicles the lives of Kody Brown; his wives Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn; and their 16 children. The final two half-hour episodes of the series about the Lehi family air Sunday on TLC.

Meri would only say she had been working "in the mental health industry," declining to name her employer. She said she was studying psychology and was hoping to work with at-risk teens.

Contacted to speak about Meri's firing, Kody Brown wouldn't comment. "I can't talk right now," he said.

"They aren't commenting on anything right now," said Laurie Goldberg, TLC's senior vice president of communications. The appearance on "Oprah" was taped last week; the Browns have refused interview requests since then.

Meri Brown's employer was aware she was a polygamist before the show aired; all of the Browns were open about their lifestyle with bosses and co-workers. In previous Tribune interviews, Kody Brown said as far as work was concerned, polygamy "hasn't been a problem" and the family has "gotten a lot of support."

But that changed after "Sister Wives" premiered on TLC.

The Browns are still waiting to hear if they will have legal problems to go along with Meri's job situation. Earlier this month, Lehi police presented a case against the Browns to the Utah County Attorney's Office, which is screening the evidence for charges of bigamy, a third-degree felony. The penalty carries up to five years in prison.

The Browns were aware they could face legal trouble when they agreed to do the show. "We knew there were risks, but we feel like this story, for the sake of our entire family, is an important one to tell," said Janelle, in an interview prior to the show's premiere. Added Robyn, "And we are willing to take those risks."

The Browns also said they were hoping for understanding, not prosecution. "It's not like we're trying to promote our lifestyle," Meri said.

"This is for us. It's not for everybody else," Robyn said. "We chose this. We like it. Doesn't necessarily mean you do."

spierce@sltrib.com

Season finale

"Sister Wives" ends its first season with two episodes Sunday at 11 and 11:30 p.m. on TLC. The network hasn't announced if there will be a second season.