Mormon leaders have finally admitted that the church's founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.
Smith, who wrote the Book of Mormon and established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had been portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma.
The church's acknowledgement is part of an effort to be more open about its history as members increasingly encounter claims about the faith.
According to the church, Smith was unlikely to have had sexual relations with all of his wives, as some were 'sealed' to him for the next life. But the multi-marriages were said to be 'an excruciating ordeal', for his wife.
Most of Smith's wives were between the ages of 20 and 40, but he married Helen Mar Kimball, a daughter of two close friends, 'several months before her 15th birthday.' According to 'careful estimates', the church said Smith had 30 to 40 wives.
Smith also wed women who were already married, some to men who were his friends and followers.