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FLDS exile wins custody of kids from wives still in polygamous sect

Published March 28, 2014 10:00 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A man exiled by a polygamous sect has won permanent custody of his children from two ex-wives who are still members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Judge James Shumate on Thursday granted the custody to Lorin Holm at the conclusion of a 5th District Court trial in St. George, according to the St. George Spectrum. The judge said it's more likely that Holm will allow his wives to visit the children. He said the wives would have been less likely to allow Holm into their residence if they had custody.

Holm sued to get sole custody of the children in 2011 after he was kicked out of the sect based in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., earlier that year for being deemed unfaithful. He had three wives and more than a dozen children. Today, he lives with his first wife, who also left the church.

At the conclusion of the trial, Shumate left door open for Holm and his estranged polygamous wives to agree on new family arrangement, the Spectrum reports.

Holm argued that his children could be sexually abused, forced into child labor or kicked out of the church while being raised by Lynda Peine and Patricia Peine. The two women are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on the Utah-Arizona border.

Lynda Peine said she tells her children to respect Holm, and she denied knowing why they call him an "apostate." Roger Hoole, Holm's attorney, grilled Peine on Wednesday about her beliefs and the influence Warren Jeffs, the FLDS leader who is imprisoned in Texas on child sex abuse convictions, and others have on her children, the Spectrum reports.

"You've also testified that you understand marrying 12-year-olds or 13-year-olds is against the law," Hoole said. "If there is a conflict between the laws of God given by Warren Jeffs and the laws of the land, which is supreme in your mind? Which would you follow?"

"The laws of God," she said.

Hoole then asked if that meant she subscribes to Jeffs' belief that it's acceptable for adult men to have sex with underage girls, the Spectrum reports.

"He never said that, in my hearing," Peine said. "I don't believe it."

Hoole then asked if that meant she subscribes to Jeffs' belief that it's acceptable for adult men to have sex with underage girls, the Spectrum reports.

"He never said that, in my hearing," Peine said. "I don't believe it."

Rodney Parker, Peine's attorney, in Wednesday's testimony voiced his opposition to the trial being about his client's religious beliefs.

"The culture is not on trial here," said Parker, the Spectrum reports. "If you step into that world where you start to pass judgment on the culture, where do you draw the line?"

On Thursday, other exiled FLDS men hailed the ruling as a precedent-setting victory that will make it easier for them to get their kids back, if not their wives, according to the Spectrum.