Seven of the accusations against Joseph Smith come from an 1886 publication of Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal entitled Mormon Portraits. Originally designed to be a series of books, only the first volume was ever printed. It contained the subtitle: Joseph Smith, the Prophet, His Family and His Friends and Wymetal adopted the penname, Wilhelm Wyl. Three of the seven allegations are from Wyl personally, while in four more he is allegedly quoting Sarah Pratt.
Wyl’s book typifies polemic literature. Extreme claims from unidentified or partially identified informants are utilized throughout. Little effort is expended to trace the identities of the men and women to discern the possibility that the storytellers were positioned to view the described events. The anonymity of the contributing voices largely removes accountability from the informants and Wyl himself. It also impedes efforts to verify the accounts. This lack of scholarly approach in Mormon Portraits does not discount Wyl’s work wholesale. His charges are often repeated by anti-Mormons and even a few historians. Accordingly, his accusations regarding Joseph Smith are addressed herein as if they might be true, letting analytical research uncover their validity, or the lack thereof.
Concerning the accuracy of the items in Mormon Portraits, non-Mormon writer Thomas Gregg wrote:
“The statements of the interviews must be taken for what they are worth. While many of them are corroborated elsewhere and [are corroborated] in many ways, there are others that need verification, and some that probably exist only in the mind of the narrator. One fact, however, will obtrude itself upon the mind of the reader--that while these seceders are making all these damaging statements against the Prophet and the leaders at Nauvoo, it is remembered that only a year or so earlier they were denying them when made by others. It is for them to reconcile these damaging facts.”
After reading Mormon Portraits, anti-Mormon William Law who lived in Nauvoo in the 1840s wrote: “Your informants… may, now and then, have drawn a little on their imagination, [and] may have reached false conclusions in some instances judged from circumstances and not from facts; doing injustice, perhaps, to the innocent.”
Biographer Richard L. Bushman provided this assessment of Wyl: “[He] introduced a lot of hearsay into his account of Joseph. Personally I found all the assertions about the Prophet's promiscuity pretty feeble. Nothing there [was] worth contending with.” L.D.S. General Authority, B. H. Roberts, assessed: “[Mormon Portraits] follows very much in the style and tone of Bennett's exposé, and severer criticism than this could not be passed upon it.”
It appears that accusations found in Wyl's book would greatly benefit from additional corroborating evidence. Several claims can be shown to be blatantly false, hence, his accuracy regarding any statement should not be assumed. Historical date from more reliable sources predictably and consistently contradict his claims.
 Thomas Gregg, The Prophet of Palmyra: Mormonism Reviewed and Examined in the Life, Character, and Career of its Founder. New York: John B. Alden, 1890, 504.
 Letter written to Dr. W. Wyl, January 7, 1887; quoted in “The Mormons in Nauvoo: Three Letters from William Law on Mormonism, The Daily Tribune: Salt Lake City, July 3, 1887.
 Email correspondence between Richard L. Bushman and the author August 23, 2007.
 B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1957, 2:164.