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Was Joseph Smith Accused of Being a Rapist?

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Updated July 3rd 2024

Some of Joseph Smith’s wives left the Mormon Church. However, in an era where practicing your religion was dependent upon living near the congregation, some of these women probably did not purposefully remove themselves from the Mormon Church. Some might have simply decided not to move to the places where the Mormon Church congregated (Missouri, Nauvoo, or Utah). Many of these women would still defend Joseph Smith polygamy

Among the wives of Joseph Smith who either left or didn’t participate in the Mormon Church their whole lives were Agnes Moulton Coolbrith, Elizabeth Davis, Fanny Alger, Lucinda Pendelton, Sarah Kingsley, and Sarah Lawrence. Despite their disassociation from the Mormon Church, there are no records of them accusing Smith of sexual impropriety. One example of this comes from Coolbrith, who moved to California. She stayed in contact with members of the Mormon Church and defended her marriage to Joseph Smith to his son, Joseph Smith III, who famously denied that his father ever practiced plural marriage, or Joseph Smith polygamy.