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Bountiful


News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals

Former bishops guilty of polygamy in Bountiful, British Columbia 

“Two former bishops of an isolated religious commune in British Columbia have been found guilty of practising polygamy after a decades-long legal fight launched by the provincial government. Winston Blackmore, 60, was married to Jane Blackmore and then married 24 additional women as part of so-called ‘celestial’ marriages involving residents in the tiny community of Bountiful. The court heard that his co-defendant, James Oler, 53, had five wives. …Justice Sheri Ann Donegan said Monday the evidence proves Blackmore has been a practising member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a breakaway Mormon sect that believes in plural marriage. … ‘Mr. Blackmore confirmed that all of his marriages were celestial marriages in accordance with FLDS rules and practices.’ … Both men’s lawyers argued against the credibility of evidence related to marriage and personal records seized by police from the Yearning for Zion Ranch, an FLDS church compound in Texas, in 2008. The information pertained to members of the sect in the United States and Canada. … Blackmore and Oler were charged in 2014 for the second time with practicing polygamy, more than two decades after allegations that members of the Bountiful community were involved in multiple marriages, sexual abuse and cross-border child trafficking. The charges were the latest step in a series of investigations and failed attempts at prosecutions dating back to the early 1990s involving Bountiful, located in the southeastern corner of the province and close to the U.S.-Canada border.” (National Post, The Canadian Press, 07/24/17) [8.3]

Accused polygamist Winston Blackmore loses latest court appeal

In the latest legal decision in a years-long polygamy battle, British Columbia’s (B.C.’s) “highest court has upheld the appointment of special prosecutor Peter Wilson and the decision by Wilson to file polygamy charges against Winston Blackmore. Wilson, the third special prosecutor appointed in the case, decided in August 2014 to [once again] file charges against Blackmore, a leader of the Bountiful community in southeastern B.C. . . .[The] court heard that allegations first surfaced in the early 1990s that individuals were practicing polygamy in the small community of Bountiful, near Creston. RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] conducted an investigation and forwarded a report to Crown counsel, with the Crown declining to approve charges.

Further allegations were investigated in the early 2000s, with the result that once again charges were not laid by the Crown. [First special prosecutor Richard] Peck was appointed in 2007 and decided not to file charges, expressing a preference that a ruling on the constitutional validity of polygamy laws be obtained. The following year, Terrence Robertson was appointed as the second special prosecutor. In January 2009, Robertson approved charges against Blackmore, who went to court and challenged that decision. The B.C. Supreme Court [at that time] found the attorney-general had no jurisdiction to appoint Robertson and quashed that appointment and his decision to approve charges.” (The Province, 06/01/16) [IT 7.3, 2016]

Bountiful polygamy case heads straight to trial

The Canadian Ministry of the Attorney General has signed off on special prosecutor Peter Wilson’s request to avoid a preliminary inquiry and head straight to trial against Winston Blackmore. Blackmore is a polygamist leader of a fundamentalist Mormon commune and is alleged to have more than two dozen wives. Blackmore has chosen to be tried by judge and jury. No date has been set for the trial of the Bountiful, British Columbia resident. [IT 7.1, 2016]

Charges Laid Against Bountiful Leader Winston Blackmore After Judge Rules Charter Should Not Protect Polygamists 

Polygamous sect leader Winston Blackmore, who has exercised power and control for decades over some 500 souls from his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) stronghold in Bountiful, British Columbia (BC), recently fought the tax man and lost. A Tax Court of Canada judge agreed last year with an earlier ruling finding that Blackmore had underreported his private company’s income by $1.8 million over 6 years. The judge slapped him with $150,000 in penalties and dismissed claims that his community is a “religious communal congregation” and thus tax exempt. 

Mr. Blackmore is also being sued by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for alleged trademark violation. The church, which represents mainstream Mormons, wants nothing to do with Mr. Blackmore or Bountiful and its polygamous ways. 

But these are the least of his worries as he now faces criminal prosecution. BC’s Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) recently announced that, on recommendations from the RCMP and the advice of a special prosecutor appointed by the province’s Attorney General, Mr. Blackmore and another man, James Oler, have each been charged with one count of polygamy. 

Crown prosecutors now have access to a lengthy and detailed analysis of Bountiful, its polygamous practice, and the law. Written in 2011 by BC’s Chief Justice Robert Bauman, the document is described in Bauman’s own words as “the most comprehensive judicial record on the subject ever produced.” 

Bauman was asked to declare whether Canada’s longstanding but seldom-used antipolygamy law is consistent with the freedoms guaranteed by the Charter. He heard from dozens of expert witnesses and former sect members over 5 months, and then described in his report what really goes on at Bountiful. He dismissed claims that the divided community is free of abuse and harm. Instead, harm is what the Bountiful question is all about, Chief Justice Bauman concluded. “Harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.” 

Specifically, he found that women in polygamous relationships “are at an elevated risk of physical and psychological harm. They face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse.” And children in polygamous families “face higher infant mortality. … They tend to suffer more emotional, behavioural and physical problems, and … lower educational achievement than children in monogamous families.” He wrote that early marriage for girls, frequently to older men, is common. 

Chief Justice Bauman listened, reflected, and then determined that any Charter breaches caused by Canada’s antipolygamy law are “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” and that the prohibition on polygamy “is consistent with, …further, Canada’s international human rights obligations. … In my view, the salutary effects of the prohibition far outweigh the deleterious.” 

With this document in hand, BC’s CJB are proceeding with the criminal prosecution of Blackmore and Oler. The two men are scheduled to appear in a provincial courtroom in Creston, BC in October. When the trial begins, prosecutors might point to evidence that Mr. Blackmore gave at an unrelated civil trial in Salt Lake City earlier this year. There, he acknowledged to having wedded on different occasions three 15-year-old girls. “I never touched anyone before they were 16,” he testified. (National Post, 8/14/14) [IT 5.3] 

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson, following a lengthy investigation, is considering bringing charges of polygamy, sexual assault, sexual interference, and the procurement of sexual activity against members of the Bountiful, British Columbia, community of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The procurement charge refers to allegations that teenage girls were sent from the community to marry older men in the United States. (Globe and Mail, 7/10/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Nothing has been done to enforce the 2011 decision of the British Columbia Chief Justice to uphold, in a 335-page ruling, the antipolygamy law. He maintained that polygamy was “inevitably associated with serious harms.” Crowne lawyers insisted years ago that the relevant criminal code sections were probably unconstitutional, so they did not bring charges. Indeed, the polygamy indictments of Winston Blackmore and James Olen, rival leaders of Bountiful [the offshoot settlement of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints], were thrown out due to the way the Attorney General’s office handled the case. Moreover, Crowne lawyers have maintained that there hasn’t been a substantial likelihood of conviction in cases of reported child abuse, and that prosecution was not in the public interest. The current but archaic law is seriously flawed and should be replaced in order to deal better with the damage to generations growing up in polygamous communities. (Vancouver Sun, 7/14/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Testifying via affidavit in the case, a wife from the polygamous community of Bountiful praised the controversial institution, saying: “I believe my marriage was a match made in heaven,” and that she is “privileged to have four sweet and loving sister wives to live with. Getting along with them and learning to love them is a challenge I enjoy. By saying a challenge, I mean it is a challenge for me to see if I can, no matter what others do around me, maintain a kind and peaceful nature all the time.” Having attended a campus of the College of the Rockies, near her home, she believes that it’s “a wild and unstable world. Out there, people were behaving in ways that are not in accord with my beliefs; fighting, impatient, yelling, dating and breaking up, drinking, using foul language, making rude comments. . . Oh, I would sing and dance with rejoicing if celestial marriage was no longer considered criminal.” [IT 2.1 2011] 

Lorna Blackmore and Truman Oler, who grew up in the Bountiful, British Columbia, FLDS settlement, assert in recently filed court documents that the organization sanctions a harmful lifestyle that gives men control over women and forces teenagers into marriage. Blackmore, now 67, and living outside the community since 1980, says that at age 18 she was forced to marry a man twice her age, and Oler reports that he was taught, when he was a boy, that girls were like “poison snakes,” unfit to play with or even talk to. Oler, now 28, says he went through a party phase after he left Bountiful, partly because he believed his decision to leave meant he’d go to hell anyway. “The party phase seems pretty common for kids coming out . . . because of their new-found freedom,” he added, but “sometimes it doesn’t work out.” His mother, still resident in Bountiful, rarely gets in touch with him, and he’s not allowed inside her home when he visits the community. Oler’s and Blackmore’s statements are contained in affidavits submitted to the British Columbia Supreme Court, which is to decide whether Canada’s polygamy laws violate religious protections guaranteed by the nation’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court has also received affidavits that support polygamy. One says: “We wish to testify that multiple conjugal relationships are a viable option in a free society, specifically when the power of decision-making and freedom of sexual expression are evenly distributed among the individuals involved.” (Winnipeg Free Press, n.d.) [IT 2.1 2011] 

The British Columbia government says FLDS Bountiful leader Winston Blackmore’s openly polygamous lifestyle is the reason his recent suit for damages against the province has failed. Blackmore had earlier argued, successfully, that the attorney general wrongly ignored legal opinions that advised against moving against him for practicing polygamy. That decision led Blackmore to sue for mental distress and public embarrassment at the hands of prosecutors. In response, the province said: “In engaging in conduct the plaintiff knew to be contrary to the Criminal Code, the plaintiff assumed the risk of criminal prosecution.” The larger issue with which the government and courts are dealing is whether Canada’s polygamy laws violate the religious protections of the Canadian Charter. [IT 1.1 2010]

Jancis Andrews, a self-made expert on the Bountiful, British Columbia, branch of the FLDS, who is campaigning to get the Attorney General to move against the polygamist group, told a local chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women in March that “no group in Canada, religious or secular, has a Charter right to collect women and girls as concubines in harems, to force sex on them, which is rape, to deny them birth control . . . to force boys out of the community in order to make more concubines available for the elders, and to threaten anyone who tries to protest with burning for all eternity in Hell.” Reasons why the law is not acting more forcefully than it has include: refusal of women to testify against the men (although police generally have a right to charge an abuser without the abused person’s consent or testimony); a trial of so many abusers would cost millions; if every man living with multiple wives were charged, there would be hundreds of men in jail, leaving wives with few ways to support themselves and needing state support for them and their children. (One of Bountiful leader Winston Blackmore’s wives recently gave birth to his 119th child.) . . . [csr 8.2, 2009) 

Fabian Dawson, Deputy Editor of The Province, has listed persons whose reports and experience can help the government’s case against polygamy. These potential sources include: a policeman who has investigated the Bountiful and Creston groups since 1990; a knowledgeable local social worker; an outspoken former polygamous wife; a University of Alberta sociologist who wrote a thesis on Bountiful; a former Bountiful school teacher; a juvenile offender who detailed abuse in the commune and was ordered to undergo “deconditioning” therapy by the judge who heard his account; an immigration officer who investigated the cases of women brought into Canada to be married to Bountiful polygamists; a man from the Colorado City (U.S.) FLDS community who says that seven of his sisters were assigned to men in British Columbia; a Colorado City schoolteacher who says dozens of his female students were taken out of his classes to become brides of older men; and several American individuals and organizations that have lobbied their representatives to investigate the movement of teen brides between Canada and the U.S. [csr 8.1, 2009) 

The women in Bountiful do not all conform to the public stereotype that has emerged in recent years, according to Angela Campbell, professor and director of the Institute of Comparative Law at McGill University. Some wear the traditional full-length dress; others, T-shirts and jeans. They use cell phones. Some go to college and take vacations with other women, without their husbands. And their stories “belie the caricature of them as benighted, hidden, and subverted.” Although they agree that church leaders matched couples in the past, they say that many couples now “court,” have a clear say in whom they’ll marry, and do so only when the woman is of legal age. They also claim that three quarters are monogamous. Wives in polygamous households work together to raise children, although they “may at times struggle with sharing a husband’s time, affection, and resources.” They say that if there is evidence of abuse it should be investigated and prosecuted, but that polygamous life is not inherently bad. The testimony of these women must be considered before deciding to call polygamy a crime, says Campbell. A National Post columnist believes that the current law against polygamy would not likely stand up in court against the religious freedom argument, but that if the law were updated, “stating that its purposes were grounded solely in gender equity,” it might pass legal muster. A Muslim activist working against the use of Shariah law to settle family disputes hopes the Bountiful case will lead to investigations of polygamy practiced by a small minority of her Canadian co-religionists who, she says, are responding to the rise of fundamentalism. [csr 8.1, 2009) 

The British Columbia attorney-general, after reviewing allegations, says he will not recommend bringing sexual assault charges — stemming from the alleged forced marriages of underage women to older men — against the Bountiful branch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but he may ask the courts to rule on the constitutionality of polygamy. Government lawyers concluded that there was not a substantial likelihood of conviction on the assault charges, and that it is uncertain whether or not freedom of religion protects the practice. [csr 7.1 2008) 

Three members of an Idaho family, Dan, Ken, and John Brown, have filed a defamation lawsuit against Mary Ann Kingston Nichols [last name “Nelson” in some accounts] for alleging, in her own lawsuit, that they shared responsibility for the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse she suffered in her forced polygamous marriage at the age of 16, in 1998, to her uncle. She says the Browns are members of the Davis County Cooperative Society and part of the “Kingston Organization.” [John David Kingston, a wealthy businessman, is head of the polygamous “Kingston clan.”] The Utah Supreme Court some time ago ruled that Nevin and Denise Pratt, of Bountiful [British Columbia, the location of a settlement of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] can sue Mary Ann Kingston for naming the Pratts, at a Utah news conference in 2003, as among 242 people who shared responsibility for her alleged victimization. [csr 6.3 2007] 

The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that Nevin and Denise Pratt, of Bountiful [British Columbia, location of a settlement of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] can sue Mary Ann Kingston Nelson for calling them, at a Utah news conference in 2003, “key members” of the Davis County Cooperative Society, which they described as a “Kingston organization.” Nelson said the Pratts were among 242 people who shared responsibility both for her forced marriage at the age of 16 to her uncle and for the beating she got when she tried to leave the plural marriage. [John David Kingston, a wealthy businessman, is head of a polygamous group sometimes called the Kingston Clan.] [csr 6.2 2007] 

The Victoria, Canada, government is concerned about the higher-than-expected numbers of teen births in the polygamous Bountiful commune of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [FLDS], but investigation of the settlement has yet to find health or crime problems. State agencies are trying to monitor the health of children in Bountiful, but say it’s difficult to get information from residents.[csr 5.1 2006] 

The Centennial Park polygamous group, in Colorado, as well as the followers of Winston Blackmore [leader of the Bountiful community], in Canada, say they are pursuing a similar policy. In response, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said: “These groups are not quite as closed as the FLDS but they are substantially closed and we have to trust that this is true. It’s a positive step forward for them.” (Brooke Adams, Salt Lake Tribune, Internet, 7/17/05) [csr 4.3 2005] 

A group of wives from the polygamous community in Bountiful, British Columbia — which split a few years ago from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — walked in on a roundtable discussion about child brides and exploitation in polygamous families and said they supported a proposal to raise the age of sexual consent. Legislation to this effect, they believe, would help them deal with “willful daughters” who want to marry earlier, against their parents wishes. The wives contend that most girls in the sect marry men within a few years of their own ages. (Michelle MacAfee, Canadian Press in Vancouver Sun, Internet, 2/18/05) [csr 4.2 2005] 

Some members of the polygamous community of Bountiful, near Creston, British Columbia, are following leader Winston Blackmore to a new settlement, in Idaho. Blackmore, a wealthy businessman with interests in British Columbia, Idaho, and Alberta, has been involved in a leadership conflict with the main body of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is based in two towns along the Arizona-Utah border. [The Canadian government is investigating the Bountiful community for evidence of alleged abuses arising from its polygamous lifestyle.] Blackmore’s businesses reportedly employ most of the young men raised in the Bountiful community, which places exceptional limits and controls on the activities of its residents. (Andrea Deardon, Idaho’s NewsChannel 7, Internet, 5/10/05) [csr 4.2 2005] 

A group of 80 women, past and present residents of the Bountiful, BC, Canada, commune of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), has posted a notice on the town message board vehemently denying the accusations of an equal rights organization that they have been enslaved and abused. The Bountiful women say anti-polygamy activists and media have “violated our constitutionally guaranteed rights of religion, association, privacy, and peaceful assembly.”[csr 4.1 2005] 

Critic Jancis [sic] Andrews believes the Bountiful women are in thrall to a cult, but says she doesn’t mean any harm. Her characterization is simply “an attempt to understand the mindset of people brought up in a cult. It’s not to judge them harshly. We can’t judge them by normal standards. We are concerned for them.” Andrews says Bountiful girls are “being denied an education, pulled out of class to become concubines in harems, denied birth control, and have motherhood forced upon them.” (Amy Carmichael, CP, Internet, 10/11/04) [csr 4.1 2005] 

Two years ago, when the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints prophet, Rulon Jeffs, died, Winston Blackmore, Jeffs’ chief lieutenant, was Bishop of the group’s Bountiful, BC, Canada settlement. When Warren Jeffs succeeded his father, he fired Blackmore and replaced him with Jimmy Oler. Now, Bountiful is split between Jeffs and Blackmore followers, with two schools and two meetinghouses in town. (John Hollenhorst, KSL TV, Internet, 11/9/04) [csr 4.1 2005] 

A number of wives in the polygamous Bountiful community plan a public relations campaign to defend their lifestyle in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A representative said she is upset about reports from women who have left the community claiming brainwashing, sexual abuse, underage marriage, and more. (Amy Carmichael, CP, Internet, 8/5/04) [csr 3.3 2004] 

The British Columbia legislature learned about the “increasingly serious” situation at the Bountiful settlement of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as long ago as the early 1990s but did not act on any of the recommendations of a report compiled by former members of the community. The report said the sect was growing more insulated from the outside world and that abuse was becoming more entrenched because there was no recourse to [public] social services.[csr 3.3 2004] 

Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has announced it will investigate the FLDS. The police team will include a social worker because of [what this report calls] “the unique challenges of dealing with victims of abuse who come from a cult-like community.” Investigators are especially interested in allegations that the drop-out rate at the Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School is far greater than the rate at other provincial schools, that students are taught blind obedience to church leaders, and that the religious curriculum is racist and white supremacist, and discriminates against women. (Daphne Bramham, CanWest News Service, Internet, 7/21, 22/04) [csr 3.3 2004] 

Schools run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) have for nearly two decades received public grants — some $460,000 last year — while teaching that polygamy is a sacred commandment from God, that women can enter heaven only if their husbands invite them, and that brown-skinned people are descendants of Satan. There are two such schools in Bountiful. One, Mormon Hills, is controlled by Winston Blackmore, who now leads a break-away faction of the church following his excommunication two years ago by church prophet Warren Jeffs. The other school is Bountiful Elementary-Secondary, controlled by Jeffs, who is the head of polygamous communities in Arizona and Utah.[csr 3.3 2004] 

Audrey Vance, of the Creston, B.C.-based Altering Destiny Through Education, wants the government to stop funding the schools. She labels as child abuse the treatment of women, especially the arranged marriages and a cut-off in education at an early age. Debbie Palmer, who left Bountiful with her children in 1988, says even boys rarely get beyond grade nine. They then go to work in one of Winston’s companies or one owned by a church trust. Some local officials are calling for government action to stop what they term the “exploitation and manipulation of these children.” They point to the fact that the government’s enrollment figures show a drop-off in students between elementary and secondary school. Of 136 children registered this year, 105 are in kindergarten to grade seven, and only 31 are in grades eight to ten. (Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun, Internet, 6/21/04) [csr 3.3 2004] 

Lawsuits versus Bountiful Branch 
Nine women who have escaped the Bountiful, British Columbia, settlement of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints led by millionaire businessman-farmer Winston Blackmore have filed a complaint with the Attorney General alleging polygamy, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation of girls as young as 15. Another group of women, including Blackmore’s first wife, have filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal saying FLDS teaches that those who do not believe in polygamy will burn in hell and that women’s sole roles are to obey men and bear children. Both complaints say women and girls are traded between Bountiful and FLDS towns in Colorado and Utah in order to improve breeding stock.[csr 3.3 2004] 

Attorney General Geoff Plant has not moved against Bountiful because he believes that Canada’s polygamy law would be struck down in the name of religious freedom if tested, even though a succession of federal justice ministers have believed that the law would withstand a Charter of Rights challenge.[csr 3.3 2004] 

But even assuming that a case against a polygamist is doomed to failure, and leaving aside sexual abuse and human rights violations, how realistic is Plant’s advice to Bountiful’s women to bring their complaints to the police when they have been raised to believe outsiders are evil, that monogamy is a sin, and that church leaders speak directly to God? He admits that coordinated aid to those who have left Bountiful might help, but he has expressed no interest in doing anything. (Daphne Bramham, Canwest News Service, Vancouver Sun, Internet, 6/2/04) [csr 3.3 2004] 

Lawsuits versus Bountiful Branch 
Nine women who have escaped the Bountiful, British Columbia, settlement of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints led by millionaire businessman-farmer Winston Blackmore have filed a complaint with the Attorney General alleging polygamy, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation of girls as young as 15. Another group of women, including Blackmore’s first wife, have filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal saying FLDS teaches that those who do not believe in polygamy will burn in hell and that women’s sole roles are to obey men and bear children. Both complaints say women and girls are traded between Bountiful and FLDS towns in Colorado and Utah in order to improve breeding stock. 

Attorney General Geoff Plant has not moved against Bountiful because he believes that Canada’s polygamy law would be struck down in the name of religious freedom if tested, even though a succession of federal justice ministers have believed that the law would withstand a Charter of Rights challenge.[csr 3.2 2004] 

But even assuming that a case against a polygamist is doomed to failure, and leaving aside sexual abuse and human rights violations, how realistic is Plant’s advice to Bountiful’s women to bring their complaints to the police when they have been raised to believe outsiders are evil, that monogamy is a sin, and that church leaders speak directly to God? He admits that coordinated aid to those who have left Bountiful might help, but he has expressed no interest in doing anything. (Daphne Bramham, Canwest News Service, Vancouver Sun, Internet, 6/2/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004] 

Schools run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) have for nearly two decades received public grants — some $460,000 last year — while teaching that polygamy is a sacred commandment from God, that women can enter heaven only if their husbands invite them, and that brown-skinned people are descendants of Satan. There are two such schools in Bountiful. One, Mormon Hills, is controlled by Winston Blackmore, who now leads a break-away faction of the church following his excommunication two years ago by church prophet Warren Jeffs. The other school is Bountiful Elementary-Secondary, controlled by Jeffs, who is the head of polygamous communities in Arizona and Utah.[csr 3.2 2004] 

Audrey Vance, of the Creston, B.C.-based Altering Destiny Through Education, wants the government to stop funding the schools. She labels as child abuse the treatment of women, especially the arranged marriages and a cut-off in education at an early age. Debbie Palmer, who left Bountiful with her children in 1988, says even boys rarely get beyond grade nine. They then go to work in one of Winston’s companies or one owned by a church trust. Some local officials are calling for government action to stop what they term the “exploitation and manipulation of these children.” They point to the fact that the government’s enrollment figures show a drop-off in students between elementary and secondary school. Of 136 children registered this year, 105 are in kindergarten to grade seven, and only 31 are in grades eight to ten. (Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun, Internet, 6/21/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004] 

Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has announced it will investigate the FLDS. The police team will include a social worker because of [what this report calls] “the unique challenges of dealing with victims of abuse who come from a cult-like community.” Investigators are especially interested in allegations that the drop-out rate at the Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School is far greater than the rate at other provincial schools, that students are taught blind obedience to church leaders, and that the religious curriculum is racist and white supremacist, and discriminates against women. (Daphne Bramham, CanWest News Service, Internet, 7/21, 22/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004] 

The community, now numbering about 1,000, has close ties to the Fundamentalist Mormons, a large polygamous settlement in Colorado City, AZ. The last decade has seen a great emigration of young women to Bountiful from the U.S. in an effort to establish closer ties to the Canadian group and its leader, Winston Blackmore.[csr 2.1 2003] 

A Canadian immigration officer said that she turns away many girls at the border because she thinks that they may be entering the country to get married in Bountiful, and plural marriage is against the law in Canada (although hardly ever prosecuted). Citizens of nearby Creston interviewed for this story are not disturbed by the polygamous community, perhaps because Bountiful helps keep the town’s economy going. (CBC News, The Fifth Estate, Internet, 1/15/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Former polygamous wife Debbie Palmer says that she will ask the British Columbia Supreme Court to consider a class action suit that she and at least 25, and perhaps 200, other wives hope to bring against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The women say that they have suffered because of the Mormon offshoot’s polygamous lifestyle. The sect believes that the highest degree of salvation depends on having multiple marriages and “several” children.[csr 2.1 2003] 

Palmer says that she experienced sexual, physical, psychological and spiritual abuse as a child and as a wife at the group’s Bountiful, B.C. commune. The civil suit will also speak of the lack of education for children in the community, and the social financial and personal problems faced by those who have tried to leave, she said. [csr 2.1 2003] 

Palmer, who has established a support system for women who leave Bountiful, was married at age 15 to the then 57-year-old commune leader. When he died, she was assigned two more husbands in succession before she left in despair in 1991, when her 13-year-old daughter said that she had been touched sexually by Palmer’s third husband. (Robert Matas, Globe and Mail, Internet, 11/19/02) [csr 2.1 2003] 

Plural marriage is a way of life in Bountiful, a polygamous community in a secluded area of British Columbia, near the U.S. border. Some men have more than 20 wives and scores of children. Teenage girls are married to men old enough to be their grandfathers, and these men believe that the more children they can produce, the better their chances of entering heaven and finding salvation. [csr 2.1 2003] 

Ron Barton, who has studied polygamous groups for the Utah State Attorney’s Office, says that an older man who seduces a 13-year-old girl does not think that he is abusing her. He thinks that they are married once they have had sexual intercourse.[csr 2.1 2003]

Bountiful - Supplemental News