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Sam Penrod ReportingA jury in Utah's Washington County has found a former police officer guilty of bigamy and illegal sex with a minor. Anti-polygamy advocates are hailing the verdict as a victory for young girls forced into polygamous marriages.
It took the jury just 90 minutes to find Rodney Holm guilty. And today's verdict could be the beginning of a new chapter of polygamy in Utah. Prosecutors say they won't stop here to protect underage girls from polygamous marriages
Rodney Holm stood quietly as he heard the jury had found him guilty. Holm was charged with bigamy for having three wives, including a 16-year old girl he conceived two children with while she was still a minor.
Pennie Peterson, Victim's Sister: "It's a good day for the kids out in Colorado City. Hopefully they'll think twice before they marry one of these babies off."
Pennie Peterson helped her younger sister run away from the polygamist marriage nearly two years ago. Prosecutors say Ruth Stubb's courage in leaving polygamy along with the jury's guilty verdict will offer hope to other underage brides.
Kristine Knowlton, Prosecutor: "If you are under 18 and people abuse that trust we will prosecute you we are going to hold you accountable."
Defense attorneys say they are disappointed in the verdict, but admit their best defense will be at the appeals level, claiming Holm was only following his religious convictions.
Rod Parker, Defense Attorney: "We always recognized our defenses were primarily legal defenses, and we plan to pursue those defenses in the court of appeals, raising the constitutionality of those laws."
Holm never spoke during the trial, but last fall at his arraignment made this statement on being prosecuted for polygamy:
Rodney Holm, Defendant, October 2002: "I don't believe that any children should have to grow up in fear that their parents could be arrested for the way they believe."
Rodney Holm will remain free until he is sentenced at the end of September. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
Ruth Stubbs was not in court today when the verdict was read. Now 21-years old she has custody of her three children and lives in Arizona.