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Investigation into commune overdue: Saskatchewan woman

CBC, Canada
Aug. 6, 2004 • Saturday August 7, 2004

PRINCE ALBERT – A woman living in Saskatchewan says an upcoming investigation into a polygamous community in B.C. is long overdue.Debbie Palmer says she escaped from a fundamentalist church in the small town of Bountiful 15 years ago.

For the past decade she has lived in Prince Albert.

Palmer says when she was 15 she was forced to marry a 54-year-old man who already had five other wives.

She says she came to Prince Albert to get away from her past. But now that the police are about to investigate the church, she wants them to get it right.

Palmer hopes that RCMP will access the research and information she’s collected before they begin investigating in Bountiful.

She says if the investigation is too aggressive, the church would go underground. And that, she says, could put them even further out of the spotlight.

Police in B.C. agree the inquiry must be done delicately.

Catherine Galliford of the RCMP says they’ll be meeting with child services to explore the best approach.

“We don’t want to disrupt the lives of the people in Bountiful, but obviously we have to investigate and put to rest the allegations coming from the media.”

Police have known about polygamy in Bountiful for years. But they say they’ve received virtually no complaints from people inside the community.

Galliford says public pressure has forced them to act.

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