PROVO The wives of polygamist Tom Green have stood together in the spotlight, weathering public scrutiny for their religious beliefs and a common love for their husband.
But nearly a year after Green was sentenced to five years in prison for bigamy and criminal nonsupport, the family's image of solidarity may be showing some cracks.
John Bucher, Green's defense attorney, told the Deseret News Monday that one of the five women Green claims as a "spiritual wife" splintered from the group about two months ago.
It is unclear why LeeAnn Beagley-Green left the family.
Conflicting reports are coming from Green's attorney, his other wives and Juab County Attorney David Leavitt.
Bucher says the scrutiny of the media and disagreements with Green's other wives are the main reasons Beagley-Green left the clan, which is made up of five wives and more than two dozen children.
"She couldn't stand the pressure," Bucher said.
There also was some disagreement among the wives about who could visit the family's patriarch at the Utah State Prison, he said.
"She wanted a closer relationship with Tom, and she wasn't getting it," Bucher said. "There was some jealousy. She kind of felt put on second-burner to Linda and some other wives."
But Linda Kunz-Green, who is Green's only legal wife, denied any dissention among wives. Beagley-Green moved to Riverton to attend a cosmetology school, she said.
David Leavitt, the Juab County attorney, says his office is handling all inquiries about LeeAnn's departure from the family.
And a statement issued by Leavitt on behalf of LeeAnn appear to be in conflict with the claims of Bucher and Green's other wives.
Leavitt said: "LeeAnn Beagley has decided to take her life in a different direction, and she needs time and privacy to determine what direction she will take her life and her children's lives."
The news comes at a time when the Green family is in transition.
With a little help from Leavitt, four of the wives are moving into a four-plex in Springville. The family also seeks aid from federal and state agencies to pay the costs.
A jury found Green guilty of criminal nonsupport for failing to repay the state a portion of the hundreds of thousands of dollars his family received in state welfare.
Feeling betrayed by the state welfare system, Green's wives vowed to make it on their own and shun state aid. The move was in response to criticism by many who felt that those who practice plural marriage must rely on public support. But after several challenging months at Greenhaven, a complex of mobile homes that housed the family in Juab's west desert area, Green's wives have softened their views.
"It was very difficult living there," Bucher said. Without Green, the family could not make repairs to the cars or the homes, and money was falling short.
Leavitt says he felt a duty to help Green's family.
Bucher knows Beagley-Green's departure from the family may have a negative effect when Green is sentenced for the charge of child rape.
In June, 4th District Court Judge Donald Eyre found Green guilty of having sex with Kunz-Green when she was 13.
Green now faces the possibility of spending life in prison.
"I'm very concerned," Bucher said. But he says LeeAnn Beagley-Green still loves Green. "In fact," he said, "she visited him yesterday."
Shirley Beagley-Green, LeeAnn's sister, said the family wants privacy a marked shift from when they grabbed chances to appear on such TV shows as "Jerry Springer."
Kunz-Green said the family's television days are over.
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