Bigamy charge against woman may be dropped
A former foster mother who was facing charges of bigamy for attempting to marry her 15-year-old foster son may be off the hook. The case, it seems, had a sticking point. Charlene Whitworth might have fully intended to marry her foster son while still married to her first husband, but at 15, regardless of his actions, Whitworth’s foster son could not legally wed her, prosecutors said.
“The whole transaction was void from conception,” said Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Alan Buttell. “At 15, he was incapable of marriage by law.”
On Wednesday, Whitworth again appeared in the Tahoe Township Justice Court, where she was offered a deal. If the 30-year-old stays out of trouble for a year the felony charge against her will be dropped, Buttell said. She is not scheduled to answer to the court again until June 2000. Whitworth’s former foster son, Christopher Lein, was also in court to stand by Whitworth, the mother of his two children. Now 18, Lein is free to live with Whitworth and legally marry her, prosecutors said.
Whitworth first gained unwelcome notice in Douglas County when Contra Costa County prosecutors contacted the district attorney’s office. Whitworth was then serving time in the Contra Costa County Jail for two counts of statutory rape in connection with her involvement with her foster son and his 13-year-old friend.
Gary Koeppel, a Contra Costa deputy district attorney, said Lein was placed in Whitworth’s and her husband, Anthony Wilson’s, care in November 1995 when Lein was 14. Between November and May, Whitworth, who was then almost 27, began a sexual relationship with the boy. She provided him with alcohol and helped him purchase marijuana, Koeppel said.
Police were alerted to the relationship after Wilson accused the minor of sleeping with his wife and then battered him. The boy admitted the relationship to police and charges of statutory rape were filed against Whitworth.
During the prosecution on those charges, Koeppel said Whitworth traveled with Lein and his father to Stateline in July 1996, even though she was under a court order to stay away from Lein. Whitworth allegedly altered Lein’s birth certificate to make him 16 – the age of consent in Nevada. Lein’s father allegedly gave his consent to the marriage, performed at Love’s Wedding Chapel, and represented that Lein was 16.
Whitworth spent more than a year in the Contra Costa County Jail for her statutory rape convictions.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The city of South Lake Tahoe is taking its first step towards addressing transit issues after the council gave staff feedback on contracting with a consultant during their Tuesday meeting.