TLC’s Sister Wives family being investigated for bigamy, admitted their relationship is illegal

The family featured in TLC’s Big Love-like reality series Sister Wives is being investigated by police for bigamy. That’s Kody Brown and his wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that “detectives began investigating Lehi advertising salesman Kody Brown and his four wives when the network first announced the show several weeks ago” and that “Utah code defines bigamy through cohabitation, not just through legal marriage contracts.”

Lehi police Lt. Darren Paul told the paper, “Admittedly, [the investigation] was brought on by the publicity surrounding the show. It’s rare because most of the time people don’t bring this kind of attention onto themselves. But it is a state law, and we’re going to investigate it.”

Appearing in front of TV critics in August, the family admitted to us that what they’re doing is illegal. Here’s the relevant part of the press conference:

QUESTION: Okay. Are you at all concerned that Tom Green went on ‘Oprah’ and ended up in jail?

CHRISTINE: That’s not really what we are even — that’s not us at all.

QUESTION: But this — I mean, but this is illegal.

CHRISTINE: Yes.

QUESTION: This is not, you know — in Utah, this is illegal, and when Tom Green went on television and made an issue of it, a way was found to put him away for five years.

JANELLE: Do you know — I mean, for us, there was risks. We knew there were risks, but we feel like this story, for the sake of our entire family, is an important one to tell.

ROBYN: Yes. And we are willing to take those risks.

Here’s the beginning of the show’s first episode, which debuted Sunday:

Police probe ‘Sister Wives’ stars for bigamy [Salt Lake Tribune]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.