Canada: B.C. launches probe into polygamous community

A special prosecutor will investigate allegations of misconduct at a polygamous community tucked into the southeastern corner of B.C., near the town of Creston.

Wally Oppal, the province’s attorney general, told B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch to appoint the special prosecutor. Lawyer Terrence Robertson will now look into misconduct allegations into the community of Bountiful. Robertson will try to determine if there was wrongdoing and if criminal convictions are likely.

Two previous legal opinions found that it would be difficult to lay criminal charges for polygamy. However, one opinion suggested that a court challenge of polygamy laws could be a better legal track than criminal prosecution.

In the past, B.C. politicians have said they were concerned about the polygamous community.

Premier Gordon Campbell had said that Bountiful “poses a vexing problem.”

“I’m as upset by what I understand is happening in Bountiful as I think most British Columbians are,” he said earlier this spring.

The community has come under focus in recent months because of a high profile raid of a polygamous compound in Texas. There were allegations that children at the ranch had been abused.

Both communities are made up of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and share some familial ties, but have completely different leadership.

The fundamentalist Mormon Bishop of Bountiful, Winston Blackmore, told CTV News in April that he was troubled by the Texas raid and claims of abuse. He had said nothing like that would happen in his community.

There has been no evidence to support the allegations against the Texas sect. Hundreds of children who were taken into custody by Texas state officials are now in the process of being returned to their parents.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday June 3, 2008.
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