The leader of a small polygamous group on the Arizona-Utah border had taken at least 20 wives, most of them minors, and punished followers who did not treat him as a prophet, new court documents show.
"Vigorous enforcement of the law during the mid-twentieth century did not deter the practice of plural marriage," Sen. Deidre Henderson said. She said it's time to end secrecy around the practice.
One man's resignation letter said it is against his faith to follow a woman or to work with "apostates." A woman had been elected mayor and church members had lost city council seats.
The towns serve as headquarters for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, known as FLDS. A jury found them guilty of discriminating against nonmembers.
The Mormon church's founder was married to as many as 40 women in the years before his murder in 1844, the church acknowledged in an article posted on its website.