Attention TLC: Bigamy is a third-degree felony offense in the state of Utah.
Perhaps the station was unaware of this fact, or maybe they just didn’t care, but the Brown family, stars of TLC’s new show Sister Wives, is now under investigation for felony bigamy. Bigamy is a crime that is rarely pursued in the Utah, but because of all the attention the Brown family has gotten from the show, the authorities couldn’t be expected to simply ignore a national broadcast of an illegal action.
The Brown family, consisting of Kody Brown; his three (soon to be four) wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn; and their 16 children, have issued this statement:
“We are disappointed in the announcement of an investigation, but when we decided to do this show, we knew there would be risks. But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking.”
The Brown family members aren’t the only people who have ever stumbled into legal trouble because of their involvement with a reality show or in their pursuit of fame. Take UK Wife Swap guest Lizzy Bardsley, for example.
Bardsley got her spot in the limelight following her appearance on the reality show Wife Swap. After that, she shot to star status, appearing on several other reality shows, selling topless photos of herself and being interviewed for celebrity magazines. This in and of itself isn’t illegal, but she kept claiming government benefits without reporting her change in financial circumstance, which resulted in her having to pay back the government. Add to that being found guilty of four accounts of child cruelty, and you can bet Bardsley’s fame has flopped.
Here in the US, we have plenty of our own fame-hungry citizens, and, coincidently, the next family was also guests on Wife Swap.
On Oct. 15, 2009, the nation watched in horror as a helium balloon floated dangerously high above Fort Collins, Colo.. Supposedly, the balloon was carrying 6-year-old Falcon Heene, son of former Wife Swap guests Richard and Mayumi Heene, causing numerous helicopters, search and rescue teams, the Colorado National Guard and more to assist in trying to rescue the boy.
Long story short, the whole thing was revealed as a hoax. The family thought such a publicity stunt would help them be more marketable for reality shows, but it backfired. Both Richard and Mayumi were sentenced to jail time and forced to pay $36,000 in restitution, no reality shows will even look their way, and the Lifetime channel refuses to re-air their original appearances on Wife Swap.
The Gosselins, Jon and Kate, have had some messy legal issues surrounding their divorce and custody battles, but that’s not the only legal trouble their reality show, Jon and Kate Plus Eight, brought the family.
In April 2010, Pennsylvania state officials found that, because the eight Gosselin children were working without permits, the family was in violation of the state’s child labor laws. Though they received no charges at the time, if the children are to appear in Kate Gosselin’s new show A Twist of Kate, set to premiere this fall, they’ll have to attain permits. If they do not, the state will not only charge them for the new offenses, but the previous cases will be reopened and charged as well.
So after reviewing these other illegal acts by former reality show guests, the stars of Sister Wives actually don’t seem that bad. After all, the point of the show was to document a multiple-wife marriage, so bigamy isn’t that shocking. Just be grateful no one is out chasing balloons again, and hope for the best.
Additional Sources Not Linked in Article:
E! Online: Sister Wives Family Under Investigation for Bigamy
BBC News: Reality TV Star Cheated Benefits
CNN: Balloon Hoax Dad Must Pay Restitution
CNN: State: Jon and Kate Broke Child Labor Law, but No Charges