The Utah Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of polygamist Tom Green on one count of child rape, saying it was not too late to pursue charges that he fathered a child from his 13-year-old stepdaughter.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, the high court ruled that the statute of limitations on the case had not run out because the fact that Green had fathered a child with Linda Kunz Green around 1985 was not brought to the attention of law enforcement until 1999, when Juab County Attorney David Leavitt discovered the fact in a birth certificate of Linda's first child.
Green had also argued that because he claimed the conception took place in Mexico, the state was out of its jurisdiction to prosecute him. Justices, however, ruled that the state was within its jurisdiction because Juab County was Green's residence at the time of his arrest.
Tuesday's ruling comes as a second appellate defeat within the last five months. In addition to serving time in prison for child rape, Green is also serving a zero-to-five year sentence for four counts of felony bigamy.
Last September, the Utah Supreme Court upheld Utah's bigamy statute and ruled that Green's marriage to some five women was not protected under the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
Green's attorney, John Bucher, had expressed an interest in challenging the Utah Supreme Court's ruling on the bigamy case in federal court, up to the U.S. Supreme Court. When contacted Tuesday, Bucher said he had not read the child rape ruling and did not know if he would challenge it as of yet.
Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura Dupaix said Tuesday's ruling spoke more about child abuse than it did about polygamy.
The ruling could be useful in future child abuse cases, in clarifying that a clear report to law enforcement is needed to start the statute of limitations.
Dupaix said Green's appeal was simply his attempt to avoid responsibility for his actions. "There was never any dispute that he had sex with 13-year-old Linda," Dupaix said.
"I think justice has been done in this case, and it isn't just because he's a polygamist. I'd feel just the same way about any man his age that has sex with a 13-year-old girl," she said.Green is scheduled for parole in August 2007.