The Many Roles of the Private Investigator in Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Allegations - Part XII “Specialized Crimes – Polygamy”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
As a private investigator one has the prospect of investigating a variety of crimes. One of these specialized crimes is called Polygamy. Throughout the investigative process the investigator must have the ability to acclimatize to a variety of situations, therefore, leading to a sound investigation.

The definition of Polygamy and the laws surrounding this type of sexual crime vary from state to state.  Each state has the ability to enact the law however they see fit. Polygamy is described as “The condition or practice of having more than one spouse at one time…Also referred to as plural or Celestial marriage by most Mormons” (Polygamy Laws, n.d.). This could mean one husband with numerous wives or one woman with multiple husbands. Although stereotypically associated with the Mormonism polygamy can be associated with Hinduism, Muslims, and other cultural/religious groups both from the Western and non-Western realms.

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Polygamy has been around for almost 200 years. It has been said that when Joseph Smith established the Latter Day Saint (LDS) Church there were recorded revelations indicating that Old Testament leaders had more than one wife. Although this was not practiced by all members of the Mormon Church some leaders practiced Polygamy (Embry, n.d.).

This type of specialized crime is a well-known subject to the majority of the public, but it is not something that is widely accepted and is often practiced furtively because polygamy is illegal in the United States. However, according to Polygamy Stop (2005), “An estimated over three billion people around the world today still believe in polygamy” and “over two billion women and children around the world live under the oppression of polygamy” (History of Polygamy, para. 5). Furthermore, this type of crime is acceptable in countries such as Africa and the Middle East.
It may be possible that polygamy is accepted by some groups of people because it can be associated with religion and harm isn’t considered because it is one’s belief or consent has been given. However, there is the possibility of force and manipulation to accept this is how things are.

The fact of the matter is that polygamy can be linked to certain consequences. This type of sexual crime:
Is more likely to present harmful effects, especially towards women and children, then monogamy.  There are several studies that appear to support this position. For example, women in polygamous marriages are at higher risk of low self-esteem, as well as depression, then women in non-polygamous relationships…Other studies show that these women…also enjoy less marital satisfaction and more problematic mother-child relationships (Brooks, 2009, p. 5).
Moreover, women are seen solely as child-bearers, submissive to their husbands, powerless, and often sustain emotional abuse, very few have the opportunity to work outside of the home, and many are susceptible to sexual diseases.

This type of sexual crime also has a severe effect on the child as well, children of polygamy tend to witness “higher incidence of marital conflict, family violence, and family disruptions than do children of monogamous families” and “are at a greater risk of both behavioral and developmental problems” leading to underperformance in the classroom” (Brooks, 2009, p. 6). In addition, children are often times born with birth defects due to incest.

Although polygamy seems to take a toll on women and children the most men can often times be effected as well.  “Some studies have shown that men are more likely to suffer from alcoholism which is thought…to perhaps arise from psychological problems” and “fall below men in monogamous marriages in terms of educational attainment” which could lead to the feeling of failure (Brooks, 2009, p. 6).

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The Utah Supreme Court stated that polygamy “often coincides with crimes targeting women and children [, including] incest, sexual assault, statutory rape, and failure to pay child support” (Brooks, 2009, p. 6). As you can see this type of sexual crime leads to a variety of other types of crimes.

The argument that in allowing same sex marriages to be legalized then there are those who advocate equality believe that if the traditional marriage is going to be violated than this should open the door to polygamy and any other type of sexual relationships which are currently illegal.

The investigator has an amazing opportunity to perform in attempting to understand what has been transpiring between all the parties. If there are multiple illegal spouses involved the foundation of the relationships has to be identified. Witness interviews will need to be conducted to establish not only what evidence there is that a pseudo marriage relationship existed.

In every investigation certain aspects can lead to complications and specific conditions leading to the required evidence necessary to convict or prove innocence. When a sex crime like polygamy comes into play a variety of witnesses and victims may come to light, however, the difficult part will be finding willing participants due to fear of possible repercussions which can bring upon doubtful convictions or unfair exonerations.

Since polygamy deals with the possibility of incest, statutory rape, multiple victims (due to having multiple wives or multiple husbands), and lack of child support the investigator will have to take a variety of different steps to confirm or invalidate polygamy has taken place.

The main focus for the investigator would be to establish the main issue of what polygamy will entail and have the knack for capturing the illegal activity. Therefore, investigators must follow a precise protocol in order to properly establish or refute the accusations set before the suspect.
Investigative Protocol

When polygamy is brought to the investigator’s attention he or she should…
   1.      Start taking notes as soon as possible after receiving notice and continue recording information as it is received throughout the investigation.
   2.      Set up surveillance on the family or families.
   3.      Take photographs and videos of the patriarch or matriarch with his or her wives or husbands and children as a whole in their surroundings to establish location where the crime took or takes place.
   4.      Have law enforcement obtain a warrant in or to effectively search the premise or compound.
   5.      Be prepared to have a forensic expert or professional who is knowledgeable in performing rape kits due to possible incest, statutory rape, and rape because polygamy is associated with underage sex. The forensic expert will swab for biological evidence.
   6.      Alleged victims may need to succumb to a medical examination of the genitalia in order to look for signs of irritation and/or injury to the genitalia and rectum areas.
   7.      Sexually transmitted diseases and other communicable infection found on the alleged suspect possibly can be linked to the alleged victim.
   8.      Witness, family, victim, and suspect statements need to be digitally/video-recorded.
   9.      Obtain information indicating the alleged suspect’s involvement in the act of polygamy.
 10.  When all necessary evidence is collected and preserved law enforcement will turn over the information to the prosecutor’s. The prosecutor will have the ultimate decision to file or not file criminal charges.
  11.  The private investigator will be retained by the client and the investigator depending upon their role will follow basically the same route law enforcement took throughout their investigation. The difference will generally be the state of mind the investigator will carry from witness to witness.
  12.  The private investigator has the responsibility to collect all of the information and present it to the client. This presentation will predicate the next investigative steps the investigator needs to consider. The investigator needs to advise the client that some of the investigative steps the client suggests may damage or harm the investigation.
  13.  If the client persists and wants the investigator to perform interviews of witnesses who are not relevant and material, the investigator may have to acquiesce to keep the client happy.
  14.  Since polygamy is complex and has a multitude of possible sex crimes. The investigator will need to understand the potential crimes which are involved and understand in order to pursue alternative hypothesis. These hypotheses may lead to the investigator’s client being exonerated for the alleged crimes.

Polygamy is a complicated specialized crime that can involve many different types of crimes. There are questions of powerlessness, servitude, violence, incest, rape, and many other complicated issues associated with it. It is seen as something that leads to psychological issues and emotional distress to those that practice polygamy.

Investigators examining the matter are intertwined with a variety of complicated situations that may or may not lead to convictions due to the harsh repercussions of speaking out against one’s own family. Is this based solely on religious preference or an excuse for an inegalitarian society, if one consents then how can be polygamy be wrong in the eyes of Western and non-Western civilization?

The fact of the matter is that polygamy has no clear cut answers, but one that is practiced in secret or in the open all over the world.

Tomorrow, the specialized sex crimes that private investigators have the opportunity to investigate can be exciting and interesting. The pursuit of investigating these crimes comes along only once in a while as investigators must have the education and experience that clients want in their investigators to hire them. The ability to obtain a specialized sex crime such as Polygamy is a case which will mature the investigator and provide the investigator with a strong foundation to investigate similar cases.

Brooks, T. (2009).  The Problem With Polygamy.  Philosophical Topics.  University of Newcastle, 37 (2); 109-22.  Retrieved from http://newcastle-uk.academia.edu/ThomBrooks/Papers/89095/The_Problem_of_Polygamy
 Embry, J.L. (n.d.). The History of Polygamy.  Utah History To Go.  Utah History Encyclopedia.  Retrieved from http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/pioneers_and_cowboys/historyofpolygamy.html
Polygamy Stop.  (2005). History of Polygamy.  Retrieved from http://www.polygamystop.org/history.html
U.S. Marriage Laws.  (n.d.).  Polygamy Laws.  Retrieved from http://usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/polygamy/index.shtml

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1 comment:

  1. Private Investigator are always provide best advice of the customers. Private investigator is also important for cases.



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