Bigamists beware: Thanks to Facebook, keeping your wives from finding out about each other is almost impossible these days, reports CBS News.
A Washington state corrections officer is facing bigamy charges after his first wife learned due to Facebook her unfaithful husband had married another woman without bothering to divorcer her.
According to charging documents, Alan L. O’Neill married a woman in 2001, moved out in 2009, changed his name and remarried without divorcing her.
That might have been the end of the story, but the first wife noticed O’Neill had moved on to another woman after social networking site Facebook suffested the ‘People You May Know’ feature.
Ellenora Fulk, of Tacoma, Wash., realized her estranged husband, Alan, changed his name and shacked up with Teri Wyatt-O’Neill after Facebook suggested she and Teri become ‘friends.’
“Wife No. 1 went to wife No. 2’s page and saw a picture of her and her husband with a wedding cake,” Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told reporters.
Fulk immediately kept his head and called her estranged hubby’s mother, and an hour later, Alan O’Neill showed up at her apartment. Fulk asked O’Neill, who left her in 2009, if they were divorced.
“An hour later the defendant arrived at [Wife No. 1’s] apartment, and she asked him several times if they were divorced,” court records show. “The defendant said, ‘No, we are still married.'”
Charging documents demonstrate that neither O’Neil nor his wife had filed divorce papers. The man changed his name in December, and later that month he married his second wife.
O’Neill reportedly told his first wife not to tell anybody about his dual marriages and promised to fix it, the documents state. But wife No. 1 alerted authorities, claims USA Today.
“Facebook is now a place where people discover things about each other they end up reporting to law enforcement,” Lindquist said.
O’Neill, 41, who was previously known as Alan Fulk, has worked as a Pierce County corrections officer for five years. He was placed on administrative leave after prosecutors charged him Thursday. He could face up to a year in jail.
O’Neill and his first wife had issues that went back to 2009. In 2010, his first wife was arrested after an altercation with the woman who later became the second wife.
Lindquist said it’s unclear why O’Neill and wife No. 1 didn’t go through the divorce. “Every few years we see one of these [bigamy] cases,” he explained.
O’Neill is free, but due in court later this month, which is standard procedure for non-violent crimes. “About the only danger he would pose is marrying a third woman,” Lindquist said. “It’s not the crime of the century, but it is a crime,” he continued.
Athima Chansanchai, a journalist who writes about social media, reported that Facebook over the years has played a role in both creating relationships and destroying them. “It’s just the latest vessel by which people can stray if they want to,” she said.