ST. GEORGE — Convicted bigamist Rodney Holm will spend nights and weekends in the Washington County jail for the next 12 months, and he will spend his days working to support his large family, a 5th District judge ruled Friday.
Holm, 37, was convicted in August of bigamy and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor 16 or 17 years old, all third-degree felonies. Holm was recently decertified of his status as a police officer in Hildale, and Colorado City, Ariz.
Holm, who is legally married to one woman and "spiritually wed" to another, has 21 children. He is a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The FLDS church, headquartered in Hildale and Colorado City, teaches polygamy as a central tenet necessary to one's salvation.
It is Holm's church-sanctioned marriage to his third wife, Ruth Stubbs, that led to the charges filed against him. Stubbs was 16 at the time she married Holm, who was then 32. Utah law makes it a crime for someone at least 10 years older than a 16 or 17 year old to have sex with that person unless they are legally married. Stubbs and Holm have three children together, and his second wife, Wendy, is expecting a baby in early November. His first wife is Suzie, the older sister to Ruth Stubbs. Ruth Stubbs left Holm in 2001.
Judge G. Rand Beacham, citing numerous mitigating and aggravating factors in reaching his decision, initially sentenced Holm to up to five years in the Utah State Prison on each felony, to be served concurrently.
Beacham stayed that sentence and placed Holm on 36 months supervised probation. He also ordered Holm to serve one year in the county jail with immediate work release privileges. The judge fined him $1,000 on each charge.
"I don't think there's any sentence that would deter Mr. Holm from committing bigamy," Beacham said. "Mr. Holm will be required, as terms of his probation, to obey all laws. I don't intend to make any other comment about his family life than that."
Holm, who told the judge he loved his family and children very much, will report to the Washington County jail at 9 a.m. Monday to begin serving his sentence.
Although defense attorney Rodney Parker argued the facts and circumstances of Holm's case met the legal burden to reduce the charges to class A misdemeanors, the judge disagreed.
Prosecutor Kristine Knowlton said Holm's behavior and comments to investigators indicated he regrets the laws of the land conflict with the laws of his God.
"Hildale and Colorado City are not a separate country," said Knowlton. "Hildale is subject to state laws. Mr. Holm continues to live with two wives, a clear violation of the state's bigamy law. He has no remorse for his actions. There is no acknowledgement of wrongdoing."
Parker countered that Holm accepts the consequences of his actions.
"The question is, can he compromise his religious beliefs to the extent the state demands?" said Parker. "He just can't go there."
Parker, who immediately filed a notice to appeal the court's decision, said he will also file a motion to stay execution of Friday's sentence as early as next week.
"It could have been worse," said Holm, who was characteristically quiet throughout the proceedings. More than two dozen family members and friends were at Holm's sentencing, although the victim in the case and other anti-polygamy activists did not attend.
Knowlton, who argued prison time would send an important message to the rest of Utah's polygamists, said she was satisfied with the day's results.
"I'm fine with it," she said. Knowlton earlier took issue with Parker's courtroom comment that Utah has turned a blind eye to polygamy for the past 50 years.
Parker said Holm's sentence was about what he expected.