Nancy Grace says Kody Brown of Sister Wives should go to jail

Aug. 11, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - TV personality NANCY GRACE promotes her new book 'Death On The D-List' held at Borders Book Columbus Circle at the Time Warner Center. © Red Carpet Pictures
From what little I know of Nancy Grace, she’s pushy and rude and is often inappropriate with guests. She’s surely opinionated, and sometimes she jumps to conclusions and is dead wrong. That’s what I think is the case here, where she’s lambasting Sister Wives star Kody Brown for having more than one wife and saying the guy should serve jail time. While I wouldn’t argue that polygamy should not be legal, I don’t think the Brown family should be prosecuted despite their high profile status. Here’s what Nancy Grace told OK! about the Browns. She says they’re breaking the law but that the state of Utah probably won’t do anything about it:

TLC’s hit reality show Sister Wives, which chronicles the lives of fundamentalist Mormon Kody Brown and his four wives – Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn – and 16 children in Utah has captivated audiences since it first aired. But by opening up their controversial lives to the world, the Browns have also made themselves suspect to legal charges and are currently under investigation for bigamy. Although the season finale aired last week, the drama is far from over.

To break down the legal issues with Sister Wives, OK! went to legal expert Nancy Grace. As the new host of the hit syndicated series Swift Justice With Nancy Grace, Nancy knows the law better than anyone on television. According to Nancy, if justice is served, Kody should be in jail.

Kody is legally only married to his first wife, Meri, but could he have a common law marriage because he lives with the other wives?
Utah does recognize common law marriage, but in this case bigamy trumps common law. He should go to jail.

How could being on the show be used against Kody and his family in court?
Video evidence is the best evidence. The cameras don’t lie. But forget what’s aired, there’s a mountain of unaired footage that will come into evidence too.

What could happen to the children?
If found guilty, the children could be removed. Historically with so many polygamous families in the state the children won’t be removed unless abuse is shown.

Could Kody or the wives go to jail?
The law is the law — bigamy is a 3rd degree felony in Utah. Those participating in the crime face a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. But most likely, Utah will turn a blind eye, as usual.

What would the courts need to prove?
That someone already married, purports to marry or co-habitate with another in addition to their spouse — or?? — If you know the other has a husband or wife and purport to marry or co-habitate with them, that’s also a crime.

What do you think will happen?
When you don’t know a horse, look at his track record. Even with the family taunting authorities on national TV, it’s unlikely Utah will prosecute although clearly, they should!

[From OK! Magazine]

Nancy is a lawyer, so she presumably understands the legal issues involved and I do appreciate how clearly she’s explaining this case. I hope she’s right on one count – that it’s not likely that Utah will prosecute this family. Yes this is technically illegal and yes countless women and children suffer needlessly under polygamy. That’s not the case for this family, where all of the wives entered into this arrangement willingly and all of them are presumably able to leave and maintain custody of their children. (We assume, although some sources say this isn’t the case.) I’m admittedly biased, though, because I watched the full season of Sister Wives and came away with a better understanding of this family and even some sympathy for them. Of course this isn’t a “typical” polygamist family, just like the Duggars aren’t a typical family of 20. Why go after them when all they’re doing wrong is living together? They offer their daughters educational opportunities and life choices. It hardly seems like they should be punished for daring to go public. On the other hand, I get why Utah doesn’t want to make it seem like polygamy is acceptable when it’s not a choice in so many cases.

Sister Wives star Kody Brown and the newest wife added to his family, Robyn Brown, were the center of attention signing autographs and taking photos with fans, as the couple shopped and scouted out the sales in the jewelry department of the mall in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 9, 2010. Will all this attention and gifts brew up a storm of jealousy amongst his other wives! Fame Pictures, Inc

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43 Responses to “Nancy Grace says Kody Brown of Sister Wives should go to jail”

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  1. heb says:

    He’s an ass but his wives are consenting adults.

  2. Tess says:

    Well, people are going to live the way thay want to live no matter how any government tries to regulate their behavior.

    Unless, of course, the government is given—or takes away—the rights of individuals to make their own choices.

  3. Bella Mosley says:

    Is Nancy willing to pay for the living expenses for these children when they lose his income?

    What will jail prove and who will it really punish? It will take a father away from his kids, put the family on welfare. So the kids lose, tax payers lose and the culprit will get some much needed rest.

  4. souths_sweetest says:

    I missed the finale and haven’t been able to catch it on TLC a second time…

    Does anyone know where I can watch it online? I got a bit addicted to this mess!

  5. Whatever says:

    That’s not the case for this family, where all of the wives entered into this arrangement willingly and all of them are presumably able to leave and maintain custody of their children
    I disagree and think polygamy is inherently abusive to women and children. And yes, with this family too. Just reading on this website, I have found plenty of evidence that this is damaging. Two of the three wives did not want the new wife, but they have no say. Kody just goes ahead and does it. This is not a modern marriage where the spouses are equal partners. He also expects the wives to have babies, even if they don’t want to have another or if there are health risks. That is abuse, so is bringing home another wife against the wishes of TWO of the three original sister wives.

    Throw him in jail and leave the kids with their mothers. They’d be better off. Imagine how the boys are growing up to view women and how the girls are being taught to view their own self worth. It is so damaging on many levels, regardless of how they pretty it up for the cameras.

    PS: I can’t freaking believe I’m agreeing with Nancy Grace, that NEVER happens.

  6. chasingadalia says:

    Isn’t felony status a little excessive for bigamy when there’s no history or signs of abuse involved?

  7. Bella Mosley says:

    LOL – agreeing with Nancy Grace. Too funny!!

    I agree with you these relationship are toxic. But I see how putting the father in jail will make it better. The adults will find a way to be together. Maybe they could be in separate houses with the dad paying support for each child but then all the children’s standard of living would go down and dad would still just spend each night with a different woman. And the kids wouldn’t see their brothers and sisters or their dad on a daily basis. Sadly, I don’t see a good outcome no matter what happens.

    Too bad they wanted to be celebrities. If they hadn’t, they would have remained below the radar.

  8. spinner says:

    I just don’t understand as to why these women would even put themselves in this type of situation. Not so much in the fact that this goes against the cultural norm, but that they would have so little regard for themselves & the example they are setting for their children. Seems to me, all these women are running around hiding their true feelings. How could you be open & honest in a situation such as this. What a waste of life.

  9. lola says:

    WTF is with “consenting adults?” You don’t say people who buy and sell cocaine are “consenting adults” and should be left alone. It’s against the law. PERIOD. Which part of that don’t you get? If you don’t want to possibly go to jail, consenting or not, DON’T BREAK THE F’IN LAW.

    or Maybe all this time working as a lawyer for judges has me jaded.

  10. fabgrrl says:

    I’ve said it before, I don’t see how this situation is (legally) different from “The Girls Next Door”. Hef was legally married to one woman, but living with his three “girlfriends”. For that matter, is it any different from many regular people I know who separate from, but don’t divorce their spouse, and live with someone else? Yes, California and Utah are different states, and Utah has the whole Mormon polygamy legacy, but I don’t see where Nancy Grace is coming from. The only mitigating factor is the welfare of the kids.

  11. sapphire says:

    So-called consenting adults are one thing-the children didn’t consent. And there are many instances of boys being tossed out of the house when they are 16-too much competition for the old men. And is Kody going to insist that his daughters marry into the religion?

  12. Jules says:

    This is blantant exploitation of women. It’s sanctioned cheating. The next time he wants to bone a new woman all he has to do is ‘marry’ her. As long as gays can’t marry, these creepy people should go to jail.

  13. PrettyTarheel says:

    @ Lola…I actually do say people who buy and sell drugs are consenting adults who should be left alone. But then, I’m a libertarian.

    I feel that they should be left alone-it is NOT the government’s responsibility to police people’s personal relationships. This isn’t a forced marriage, their children aren’t being married off to older men as sister wives…they’ve made a personal choice. These women have the option to work outside the home, they’re all involved in their children’s upbringing. It’s ridiculous to waste governmental funds pursuing this type of situation. I’m constantly amazed by the mindset of, “The government should do something.” Do you REALLY want the government policing YOUR marriage? What about people who cheat on their spouses? Should they go to jail? The government is in place to protect our borders, regulate interstate commerce, and ensure our civil liberties, NOT to be the morality police.
    If you feel it’s wrong, you don’t patronize their workplace, you don’t support them personally. As a country, we have turned to the goverment to ensure our neighbors are behaving, instead of taking personal responsibility. If I don’t like Kody Brown, I don’t have to support him by watching his show. It’s ridiculous to have a freakin’ law on who gets married between consenting adults. (And yes, I said consenting. Brainwashing cults who marry off underage girls should be prosecuted for VIOLATING THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF THOSE CHILDREN.) Our expectation of the government to police and support the nit picky financial and moral decisions we make is the reason our country is facing the steep decline we’re in.
    *steps off soapbox*

  14. TaylorB says:

    “Nancy knows the law better than anyone on television”

    OOOOOOOhhhh!!! That is gonna piss off Judge Judy, I see a Nancy vs. Judy cage match in their futures. My money is on Judy.

  15. Obvious says:

    So by living with another woman while married is bigamy? I have a friend who is married and a friend has been living with them rent free for the last 2 years-is that bigamy??? The way Nancy Grace explains it it is.

    These kids are happy, the wives are generally happy, this was a choice on their part. A conscious choice, therefor but the hell out-unless there is abuse-blatant abuse not just “i don’t approve of this so it must be abuse to make me feel better”.

    :edit:@prettytarheel, well said. =)

  16. Kerm says:

    @ Whatever:

    I have watched the show, and even saw the episode of Oprah that they were on. The other wives never disagreed to bring on the fourth, Robyn. They admitted they had some feelings of jealousy and that it was normal in their lifestyle. The “two of he wives don’t want the fourth” thing was a false rumor. They refuted it on Oprah. Kody didn’t “go off and bring home another wife” without consulting the other wives – he asked for their permission before even starting to pursue her. If you haven’t seen the show, please don’t misinterpret what you read (or believe all that you read).

    I would never want to live this lifestyle, but it works for them, and they aren’t suppressing or abusing the children as far as anyone can tell. It just seems like the ideal outcome for those men that have multiple babymommas (think NBA stars, rappers, etc., that tend to publicly admit to children from several women) – if they could just all get along and live as one big family unit, the children would be better off!!!

  17. kas says:

    @Whatever: Exactly!!! Nancy Grace is one of those people that, even when she is on the right side of an issue, she is so abrasive and annoying, you just cringe that you agree with her.

  18. Schnauzers!!! says:

    The guy is creepy, and frankly I don’t think the women have any real self esteem. We watched the show…and it just felt all sorts of wrong. These women don’t believe they deserve a whole man. It’s sad and my heart breaks for them. The children are another story…goodness. I feel so sorry for them.

  19. Javagirl1 says:

    Who cares who gets married anymore. The people in Hollywood have destroyed the “sanctity of marriage” with their minute long marriages!

  20. Beth says:

    There should be a consequence for breaking the law, if a law has been broken. There is no excuse for allowing people to break laws. This is ridiculous especially, since gay people can’t get married (and maybe people in Utah funded Prop 8 in California), but this guy can get away with having four wives. Repulsive. If Utah wants to be all weird all the time, they should secede from the union. Shaun White can go skiing in Tahoe.

  21. Meg says:

    @ Pretty Tarheel

    I understand what you’re saying: that the Gov’t doesn’t have the responsibility to police people’s private realtionships but the reality is that the US Gov’t DOES police how people marry/ live in their relationships. My example: GAY MARRIAGE. So, what’s good for the goose…

    Again, if I was starring in a reality show that showed me dealing drugs, my a$$ would be busted ASAP. This family is dumb. (in sooo many ways)

  22. Feebee says:

    @ pretty tarheel, the government is made up of PEOPLE elected by other PEOPLE so it’s kind of their jobs to have some say over what goes on. Where do you draw the line? With your logic something like incest should be nobody else’s business. It’s the “government” who sets the age limit for adulthood, maybe we should abolish that too, who’s to say when an individual becomes an adult… let’s get rid of that pesky drinking age too eh?

    As for the Browns… he had a real issue when the last wife brought up the hypothetical situation of her having another lover, he was disgusted by the idea so really he’s only happy that he gets multiple lovers, not anyone else. Sounds like a power play and not the free to love many they like to portray. As for the women, don’t talk about jealousy issues, I mean really?

    I don’t have an opinion on the right or wrong but if he’s legally married to only one, it can’t be bigamy, the rest are his mistresses that happen to be living with him (stranger things happen).

  23. Megan says:

    if they’re so damn happy, then why are they crying on EVERY episode?!

  24. Cruisin Through says:

    As long as he only has 1 marriage license, I fail to see the crime, Nancy Grace, her equally annoying mother or not. Immoral maybe, but that doesn’t make it illegal.

    This is a slippery slope. The government shouldn’t be the keeper of adults. We are supposed to be living in a free country, right?

    As long as the women are there by choice, I don’t see the issue. Many women are married to narcicistic jerks. Why is this any different?

    If a guy has 2 women on the side, is it illegal? What about when the wife knows he’s cheating and looks the other way? I think the women have serious self esteem issues, but that doesn’t mean a crime has been committed.

  25. skibunny says:

    It’s the women who are the problem. They’re the ones with the low self esteem,fawning over this creep & subjecting their children to this twisted lifestyle.

  26. gg says:

    Shaggy-Doo needs a hefty fine for psychological abuse and just being a Pig.

  27. original kate says:

    nancy grace is a hyperbolic, screeching shrew who makes her living expoliting kidnapped children and whipping parents into a frenzy of fear. her show makes me ill:

    “tonight…the tot mom makes a SANDWICH!! obviously, she is guilty of murdering her PRECIOUS BABY!! my opinion? she should FRY!!!”

    screechy screechy blah blah blah.

  28. Diane says:

    Feebee – I believe Pretty Tarheel’s point was that the children’s civil rights are violated in the case of incest.

    I personally don’t care for the show, so I don’t watch it.

  29. wonderful says:

    Pretty Tarheel, your argument falls apart when you consider the fact that laws just cant be that specific. In an attempt to prosecute those who are “VIOLATING THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF THOSE CHILDREN,” as you said, they place blanket laws surrounding bigamy and common-law spouses. It is inevitable that some people living *RELATIVELY LESS* harmful polygamist lifestyles will find themselves in violation of these laws. It would have to get really specific to leave these sorts of people alone, and what would the specification even be???? Think about it…

    In the hopes of catching harmful individuals, some less harmful individuals will also end up being prosecuted for following a seemingly more vanilla version of the idea. It is still the same idea, and you CANNOT separate them. It is impossible.

    Personally I think this is abuse toward women in any case, and I think many would agree that to get more specific about who is a harmful polygamist and who isnt is harmful to society at large.

    And FYI – the government IS the morality police. What exactly do you think law is? It is all well and good for us intelligent people to consider the fact that the government need not interfere in our lives, but it is a real naive person who thinks the whole population could be trusted to contribute to a safe society without some form of government interference into their personal lives. What you describe sounds a lot like anarchy, and only a fool would think that would result in rainbows.

  30. Jeri says:

    Is it true the wives would have to abandon their children to Kody if they wanted to leave?

  31. Kiska says:

    Nancy Grace is often over the top in her thoughts and opinions. I’ve watched the season of “Sister Wives” and although I could never live that lifestyle, I found no reason to condemn them for THEIR choice.
    In comparison to the Duggars, the kids are kids and they get to play and have fun and the older ones are not responsible for the younger children. The sister wives seem to really get along well and refer each other as “best friends.” I saw a group of people that truly love and value each other. Sure feeling get hurt and some of them cry, it happens in monogamous relationships too. Ever have your husband or bf say something insensitive and you just lose it?
    All in all, I hope that they are left alone to live their lives.

  32. PrettyTarheel says:

    As someone already pointed out, my whole point is that these people are not violating anyone’s civil liberties by living together. In the case of incest, rape, murder, theft, assault-civil rights are violated. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have police or laws against those actions, I’m simply saying whether 2, 3, or 4 consenting adults live together is not a matter for our court system. It’s a question of personal choice and morals. If you’re offended by it, you take a personal stand-the govenment should have no place in it.
    Same stance on gay marriage, drug legalization, etc. If you’re personally offended by gay marriage, it’s your choice to be so. However, the government’s denial of married status to two consenting adults who want the same tax benefits and legal rights as my husband and I have is tantamount to overt discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and it’s a violation of a person’s civil rights. If you want the legal status of marriage-your choice.

    This is a wholly separate issue from the NT Christian definition of marriage, which is clearly defined as between one man and one woman-period. By the NT Christian definition, polygamy, homosexuality, and even divorce and remarriage is adultery and a sin. A Christian church should not be forced to perform a spiritual marriage between two members of the opposite sex even if they are legally married-it’s in direct violation of the spiritual beliefs of that church. There’s a difference between legal marital status and Christian marriage.
    [I can't speak to Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, or other religions marriage values, just to my own experiences.]

  33. Kim says:

    They will never prosecute. There are FLDS men sleeping with their 11 year old daughters and the Fed Govn does nothing because its religion and goodness forbid we offend anyones religion even if it means molestation of many innocent girls! This man is a total freak pervert but hey if he found 4 women stupid enough to marry him – its their children I feel for. No child should be raised this way – knowing their dad is rotating beds-sicko!

  34. Kim says:

    The kids dont have a choice of living that lifestyle. They are basically forced into it by being born to polygamists. They obviously have to stay in that home because their parents are there. They dont have a choice unlike their mothers who do.

    I do find it interesting that not 1 of the children wants to have that lifestyle when they grow up? Most kids want to emulate their parents marriage yet these kids dont at all which tells me these kids are privy to much more than we are as tv viewers & specifically have said they dont want that lifestyle. If that isnt a red flag then I dont know what is.

  35. Obvious says:

    @kim, so because someone doens’t conform to your purist way of thinking they are a sicko? these kids go to school with polygamist families and seem to be bright and well adjusted, I believe one of the wiveshad said she’s happy with her lifestyle, but she doens’t know if it’s right for her children when they are grown, and wants them to make their own decision.

    These children are growing up in an extremely loving home, aren’t abused, get to play and have fun, are getting and education and have a large support system of people who love them. Let’s pity them for their tragic lives.


  36. Jenna says:

    I don’t think he should necessarily go to JAIL… but… this is really creepy. Obviously the women don’t love themselves that much or they wouldn’t be in this situation. Obviously the childrens’ best interests aren’t first either because again, they wouldn’t be in this situation. I’m all about “alternative lifestyles” between “consenting adults” but come on here people… this is sort of along the lines of battered wife syndrome, except no beatings. Someone mentioned if they’re “so damn happy, why do they cry every episode?” that’s a good question! i’ve never watched the show because i think it’s completely pathetic but if that is what’s really going on here, this obviously isn’t healthy.

  37. Francesca says:

    He’s so gross. The new wife is the only one he is into. It’s like he lives with all his exwives, and still screws them all, but he really only likes the newest one… whatever. This show is like The Jersey Shore of Utah and Kody is ‘The Situation’; Gross people doing weird things.

  38. Anne says:

    I think polygamists should be prosecuted because so many of the sister wives go on welfare as “unmarried women:” Fundamentalist Mormons call it “Bleeding the Beast.”

  39. Diva says:

    When I still believed in love and marriage there is no way I would have been able to do this… now that I don’t, I can totally see how this could work for me! LOL

    *just trying to lighten the mood, ignore me if you want to keep feeling disgusted/judgemental/etc. {=0)

  40. walker says:

    I don’t think he has a sweeter deal then most husbands cause all of his wives are fat! Now 3or 4 Melania Trumps? Yes!

  41. susan says:

    Hey in a way I don’t think it’s such a bad sistuation. I do not think it’s personally for me but I feel everyone should pretty much be able to live the lives they want. As long as they are supporting themselves – not milking the government – and not abusing the kids or each other than leave them alone. I enjoyed the show and would watch them over Nancy Grace any DAY!

  42. Andy says:

    My ex-husband abandoned the family when my kids were five and ten. They are now sixteen and twenty-two and I am almost 58. He owes me over $250000 in support. He quit his job and returned to the U.S. where he hid with his now wife. They returned to Canada where she stated in an email that she refused to work because she wouldn’t raise their income to give money to me and he keeps a low paying job whereas he once made over $100000/year. He hasn’t seen the kids since 1998. I hadn’t worked for ten years prior to his leaving, and had to find a way to pay for all – incuding the legal bills. How is his leaving and moving in with another woman, fully supporting her, any different? Actually, it is worse because his wife had no compassion for the kids or me, was just self serving and still is. I think that when a man owes support, the new wife, legal or common-law, should be just as liable for that support. I am carrying so much debt I don’t know if I am going to be able to carry on much longer and I feel I am supporting her trying to pay the debt that is theirs while she is living off my ex-husband’s income in Vancouver. The law needs to be changed so that she is also liable. She should be forced to work or take on the debt taht is theirs, but they say they have nothing – and even if they did it would be hidden in her name.

  43. Ramona Ross says:

    I find it hard to believe so many people are stating “Its the law”. These people are practicing their right to religious freedom. They are not illegal immigrants whom police and health care workers are not allowed to ask their status, or don’t ask, don’t tell in the military, they are American Citizens who take exceptional care of their children. If you want to enforce the law in this country, start with our borders, drug deals, con artists, insurance fraud and the numerous other crimes that actually hurt people and soak up resources. If you want religious freedom, you have to give it. An Arab can bring his multiple wifes into the country and this is not a crime but once again, American citizens are not afforded the same rights. I don’t agree with the Browns but I admire their courage and respect their right to practice what they believe. And BTW, Nancy Grace is a hysteronic wench who believes her opinion is the only one that matters. If she cared about rights she would see the Brown family’s right to freedom from religious persecution is being violated, but then that wouldn’t be sensational enough for her, would it?