Girls in the polygamous community of Bountiful “were to be treated like poison snakes” and taught that their role was to “have lots of children and obey the men,” says an affidavit filed in the B.C. Supreme Court in connection to a landmark polygamy case.
“The boys were taught not to interact with the girls and that the girls were to be treated like ‘poison snakes,’ ” says the affidavit, filed earlier this month by Truman Oler, 28, who grew up in Bountiful and left the community when he was about 21.
The affidavit is among a large amount of material, including videotaped interviews with people who grew up in polygamous communities in Canada and the U.S., filed in connection with a constitutional reference case expected to pit the right to religious freedom against arguments that polygamy harms women, children and society.
The affidavit contains allegations that have not been proven in court.
Lawyers involved in the case are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday to discuss scheduling.
The B.C. government decided last October to ask the court to rule on whether the prohibition against polygamy in the Criminal Code is constitutional. In January, 2009, a government-appointed special prosecutor had recommended charges against Bountiful leaders Winston Blackmore and James Oler.
But the B.C. Supreme Court last September quashed those charges – one count of polygamy for each man – on procedural grounds, saying the province had gone “special prosecutor shopping” to find one that would press charges.
“I now think that the FLDS is like a cult and that it is damaging for children to grow up in that environment,” Truman Oler says in his affidavit. “The FLDS does not permit anyone free choice. You are told what to do.”
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