24 Apr 2008

Polygamy laws may end up in B.C. appeals court

CTV - Canada - April 23, 2008

by CTV.ca News Staff

B.C.'s Attorney General says he will speak to a special prosecutor next week about the possibility of taking polygamy laws to the province's appeals court.

If Wally Oppal follows through with court action, the case could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Politicians in B.C. say they are concerned about a polygamous community in Bountiful, B.C., tucked in the southeast corner of the province. Premier Gordon Campbell told The Canadian Press Wednesday that the community "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.

The community has come under focus recently because of a high profile raid of a polygamous compound in Texas. There were allegations that children in the compound, which was run by a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon faith, had been abused. Hundreds of the children remain in state custody, while authorities try to figure out if the children will be safe if they're returned to their parents.

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

But Blackmore wouldn't say how many children he has or how many wives. One of the children on his property said there are 116 Blackmore children.

Blackmore told CTV News that he has "plenty enough" children. When it comes to the number of wives, he said he has "just enough, so I don't chase anybody else's."

"I have married several very young wives in my life," he said.

The 51-year-old Bishop also told CTV News he has never been married to anyone underage.

Police have investigated the Bountiful community and have conducted interviews with dozens of men and women. But there has not been a single complaint of abuse or single charge recommended.

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