A former member of Arvin Shreeve's polygamist sect says she lied last October when she told reporters the group had not disbanded and that her marriage to a group member was arranged so the man could buy a home.
Robin Hughes, now living in Kansas, also said she questions the child sexual-abuse charges filed against Shreeve and eight female sect members since last August."I just didn't see that," said Hughes, who said she lived with the group in Ogden's Northwood subdivision for about six months.
She made her initial statements to the media Oct. 21 following Shreeve's arraignment in 2nd District Court on child sodomy and sexual-abuse charges.
Hughes sent a letter to the Standard-Examiner this week recanting her comments, saying she made the statements "because I felt that's what people wanted to hear."
She said she had been under a lot of "pressure from authorities, and thought I was going to be prosecuted" for belonging to the sect.
To date, eight group members, including Shreeve, have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges ranging from child sodomy and attempted aggravated child sexual abuse to sexual exploitation of children and dealing in materials harmful to minors.
Despite those admissions, Hughes now says she "was wrong about the group" and believes the charges were fabricated by prosecutors bent on destroying the group.
"I knew those people . . . they're just pleading guilty to make those officers happy," she said. "I don't think my friends should go through the persecution . . . and prosecution the cops and the LDS Church are putting them through."
Shreeve and most other adult members of the sect were excommunicated by the Mormon Church several years ago.
Hughes said she was unaware that law enforcement authorities and another young woman who left the group after Hughes did have also said the group was intact and continuing to meet.
"I didn't really know that at the time" she made the comments, Hughes said in a telephone interview Monday from Kansas.
She also said the revelations of further activity do not change her opinion that the group has now formally disbanded.
"Also, I was wrong to say my husband married me to get the house we bought," Hughes said. "He didn't need me to buy that."
Hughes said she remains separated from her husband. She said she moved away from Utah to start a new life but still loves her former associates.
"If I could do it over again, I would," she wrote in the letter. "I really loved living out there. I hope these people will forgive me for all I've said and done . . . and hope they will still be my friends.
"I don't believe anything bad was going on out there," Hughes added, "and what a lot of these women are going through is all wrong."
Mike King, who has spearheaded the investigation of the group for the county attorney's office, said the sect is still active and that authorities have the group under close scrutiny.