CRESTON, B.C. – Some of the wives at a polygamous commune near Creston say they welcome an investigation launched by the provincial government. Attorney General Geoff Plant announced last month provincial officials will look into accusations of child abuse, forcible marriage and sexual exploitation at the Bountiful commune.
But Marlene Palmer says there is no abuse at Bountiful, – a breakaway Mormon sect – and that they’re looking forward to the investigation. “I say, ‘come ahead and lets see if we can find something,’ because to my knowledge there is no abuse in this community – no children abuse, no spousal abuse. “And I feel that the press has been told a lot of untruths,” says the 45-year-old Palmer, who is involved in a polygamous relationship.
The mother of six says all the women in the commune are there of their own free will. “We enjoy our lifestyle. It’s what we believe, and it’s what we love.” Marsha Chatwin agrees. She says she and her sister Zelpha are both happily married to commune bishop Winston Blackmore – and she says they are a close family.
But women who have left Bountiful say girls in their early teens have been forced to wed middle-aged men and have been trafficked across the border. Palmer says a group of about 80 women will meet this weekend to come up with a campaign to counter the allegations.