A Washington woman inadvertently discovered that her husband had a second wife, when an automated Facebook pop up suggested that the two women become “friends” on the social media network.
According to the Associated Press, the husband in question is Alan L. O’Neill, a 41-year-old corrections officer in Pierce County, Wash. O’Neill reportedly got married to his first wife in 2001, and then in 2009 separated from her, moving out but not formally divorcing or filing for legal separation. That same year, O’Neill legally changed his name (which had previously been Alan Leighton Fulk) and five days later he remarried, unbeknownst to his first wife.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said that the woman first received the unexpected news when Facebook feature “People You May Know” suggested O’Neill’s second wife. When the woman clicked through to look at her profile, she discovered a photograph of O’Neill and his new wife posing with a wedding cake.
“Facebook is now a place where people discover things about each other they end up reporting to law enforcement,” Lindquist said. “It’s not the crime of the century, but it is a crime.”
According to court documents, the first wife immediately called O’Neill’s mother and, "an hour later the defendant arrived at (Wife No. 1's) apartment, and she asked him several times if they were divorced. … The defendant said, `No, we are still married.’”
He allegedly then asked his wife to keep quiet about the two marriages, which are a crime under both state and federal laws, promising that he would rectify the situation. Instead, O’Neill’s first wife, who has not been identified in police reports, went to law enforcement authorities with the news. In March of last year, O’Neill was charged with bigamy and placed on administrative leave. If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison.
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, the two women were previously acquainted with one another. In 2010, O’Neill’s first wife was arrested, but not charged, for domestic violence that took place when she allegedly discovered his extramarital relationship with the second woman, who he later went on to marry.
An attorney for O'Neill told the publication that his client “is extremely embarrassed and remorseful.” “I’ve never done anything intentionally wrong in my life,” O'Neill said.