Facebook wedding photo leads to polygamy charge

A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan gets married. However, his first wife, from whom he is not divorced, sees photos uploaded onto Facebook. They are reportedly of his new marriage.

Relationships are complex. And I'm not sure that Facebook, for all its cleverness, is ever the right environment for complexity.

Which is why some might feel a certain twitch of brotherhood with Richard Leon Barton Jr. According to the Grand Rapids Press, Barton Jr. got married last July. It was, by all accounts a happy event.

CC Shelley Panzarella/Flickr

These days, people do feel a terrible urge to display a record of happy events on Facebook. And, well, these records might not make everyone else so happy. So it appears in this case. For pictures of Barton Jr.'s wedding reportedly materialized on the Facebook pages of some of his family members.

Regretfully, one family member reportedly saw these pictures. And she happened to be a woman in New England to whom he was still legally wed. She reportedly went to the police and told them she suspected something might be amiss when her husband had defriended on Facebook. (That is always a warning sign in any marriage, one imagines.)

Apparently, hell hath no fury like a woman bigamized. So you will be stunned into a permanently single life when I tell you that Barton Jr. has been charged with polygamy.

Michigan, unlike certain areas of Utah, tends to look down on polygamy. The maximum sentence is four years (and/or a $5,000 fine). In Barton's case, things are made even more complex by the fact that he reportedly has something of a criminal record already.

Police told the Grand Rapids Press that they were told the first wife (whom he had met online) had discussed divorcing Barton Jr., but that somehow this happy event had failed to occur.

Oh, what a complex web the Web can weave.

So please, should you be considering leaving your spouse over the next week or two, don't forget to go through with the proceedings before getting married again--and most certainly before defriending him or her on Facebook.

 

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