- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A father may teach his young daughter about his religious belief in polygamy despite his ex-wife’s objections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said in a 5-1 decision yesterday.

The state’s highest court said Stanley M. Shepp, whose Mormon fundamentalist beliefs endorse polygamy, has a constitutional right to express his beliefs about plural marriages and multiple wives even though bigamy is illegal.

“Where, as in the instant matter, there is no finding that discussing such matters constitutes a grave threat of harm to the child, there is insufficient basis for the court to infringe on a parent’s constitutionally protected right to speak to a child about religion as he or she sees fit,” Justice Sandra Schultz Newman wrote.

The girl’s mother, Tracey L. Roberts, testified that Mr. Shepp’s interest in polygamy broke up their marriage, and expressed concern that he may introduce the girl to men in preparation for marriage at age 13, according to the court opinion.

The ruling did not state the age of the girl, Kaylynne. In December 2003, she was 10, so she would be 12 or 13 now.

A county judge had prohibited Mr. Shepp from teaching the child about his polygamist beliefs — at least until she turned 18 — and that decision was upheld by the state Superior Court.



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