A judge with three wives

How can he uphold the law if he doesn't follow it himself?

Published November 3, 2005 7:50PM (EST)

A judge who is married to three women fought for his job before the Utah State Supreme Court yesterday, the Associated Press reported. He was removed from the bench in February because of his polygamy.

Judge Walter Steed has sat on the bench for 25 years in the southern Utah town of Hildale, which is dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Remember them from last week? They're the offshoot of the Mormonism that trades young women like so many playing cards, forcing girls under age 18 into marriage with much older husbands whom they don't choose themselves. Members of the church dress in strict pioneer-style garb, with women clad in high collars, long dresses and long hair.

Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah, and can carry a sentence of five years in prison. And all three of Steed's wives aren't just married to the same man, they're sisters, too, according to the AP.

A group called Tapestry Against Polygamy, an association of formerly polygamous women, which has published a book called "God's Brothel," first filed a complaint against Steed in 2003. While Judge Steed has lost his job, neither the Utah attorney general nor the Washington County prosecutor has prosecuted him for bigamy.

How much longer will Utah allow the customs of God's brothel to supersede the rule of law? Broadsheet can't wait to hear what the state's Supreme Court decides.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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