Loophole in Florida law spares bigamist

July 14, 2011 at 1:00 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla., July 14 (UPI) -- A Florida man with two wives can't be prosecuted for bigamy under the state's laws because one of the marriages took place in Las Vegas, officials said.

Tait Michael Bennett was arrested in October on bigamy charges after his wife Heather Bennett found out he had married another woman, Amy Bessey, in Las Vegas in 2005, WKMG-TV, Orlando, reported Wednesday.

Heather Bennett had gone to the Department of Children and Families seeking child support for their two children after she and Bennett separated after she said she found out he was cheating on her.

A records check by the department found another Mrs. Tait Bennett.

Heather Bennett filed bigamy charges against her husband, but in June Assistant State Attorney John N. Knutton sent her an unexpected response.

"Unfortunately, Florida case law and statute says that the second marriage must take place in Florida," Knutton wrote.

Under Florida statute 826.01, anyone "having a husband or wife living (and) marries another person" is guilty of a 3rd-degree felony, but refers to a second marriage occurring in Florida.

Attorney Steven Lockhart, a former state legislative researcher, said Bennett has violated "the spirit of the law."

A simple change in the statute's language would ensure that Florida would not be a haven for bigamists, Lockhart said.

Tait Bennett lives in Central Florida and has a child with Amy Bennett.

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