7 Mar 2011

RCMP renew investigation of Mormon polygamists on new evidence of child bride trafficking to US

CBC News - The Canadian Press     February 25, 2011

Child bride allegations prompt RCMP probe

Shocking allegations that eight underage girls from Bountiful, B.C., — including two who were 12 years old — were taken south of the border and married to American polygamists have prompted a renewed criminal investigation by the RCMP.

The marriages are outlined in documents from authorities in Texas, where a polygamous compound was raided in 2008.

The records, which surfaced this week in a B.C. court case examining this country's anti-polygamy law, detail marriages involving girls aged 12 to 18 between 2004 and 2006.

Three of the girls — two 12-year-olds and a 13-year-old - were allegedly married to jailed polygamous leader Warren Jeffs, who faces trial in Texas on child sex assault and bigamy charges.

Six others were married to other American men, while a ninth, a 16-year-old American girl, was married to a man from Bountiful in 2004 and subsequently moved to Canada, where she gave birth to her first child at 17.

Cpl. Annie Linteau of the RCMP confirmed Friday that the province's attorney general alerted the Mounties about the new evidence last week.

"We initiated an investigation, and that's ongoing," said Linteau.

Linteau said she couldn't reveal any further details, such as what potential charges the Mounties could eventually consider.

Previous investigations

The RCMP have investigated Bountiful several times during the past two decades, looking into allegations of polygamy, sexual abuse and human trafficking, but those investigations have never led to criminal trials or convictions.

The community's two leaders, Winston Blackmore and James Oler, were each charged in 2009 with practising polygamy, but those charges were thrown out of court on technical grounds.

That prompted the provincial government to ask the B.C. Supreme Court whether Canada's prohibition on multiple marriage is constitutional. The hearings wrapped up earlier this month, with closing arguments scheduled for late next month, but the B.C. government was in court Friday asking for the new evidence to be admitted.

The records stem from the sensational 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch, a polygamous compound run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, near Eldorado. Residents of Bountiful are also followers of the FLDS, which, unlike the mainstream Mormon church, still practises polygamy.

The marriages at issue began in 2004, when the documents allege four girls were married in Colorado City, Ariz. They included a 13-year-old girl from Bountiful, who was married to 48-year-old Jeffs "for time and all eternity."

Two 17-year-old girls from Bountiful were also married the same day to other men. They were "personally delivered" by Bountiful bishop James Oler, the B.C. government alleges in its court submissions. Jeffs presided over the marriage ceremonies.

Also on that day, the 16-year-old girl from the United States was married to a man from Bountiful. The B.C. government documents allege Oler was present at the ceremony.

Not yet accepted by court

The following year, two 12-year-old girls from Bountiful were married to Jeffs in Texas, according to the documents. They were each taken to the Colorado City area by their parents, and then transported to Texas by the FLDS.

And on April 26, 2006, it is alleged that three more girls from Bountiful — two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old — were married in the United States.

"This is the first hard evidence, at least with respect to Bountiful girls, of marriages as young as 12," B.C. government lawyer Craig Jones told the court.

"It provides evidence of the commodification of and trafficking in girls that was predicting as a consequence of polygamy [by expert witnesses]."

Jones explained that his office only received the documents from Texas earlier this month, and asked Chief Justice Robert Bauman to allow them to be entered into the record.

Bauman said the documents can be tendered with the court, and he'll decide later whether they can be formally admitted.

The documents from Texas will remain sealed, even if they are admitted as evidence, because they relate to ongoing prosecutions and secret grand jury proceedings in the U.S.

During the 2008 raid, Texas authorities seized more than 400 children, most of whom were eventually returned to their families. Seven men were convicted of child sexual assault and abuse.

This article was found at:


The Vancouver Sun - Canada February 26, 2011

RCMP renews Bountiful investigation

Evidence that eight girls were taken south of border to marry older men spurs new probe

By Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun

The RCMP has launched a new criminal investigation into the polygamous community of Bountiful, near Creston, following disturbing new evidence that eight girls -some as young as 12 -were taken to the U.S. to marry older men.

Attorney General Barry Penner last week demanded police investigate the new information and in particular look at any evidence that might support criminal charges of child sexual exploitation or procurement of children for sex.

On Friday, Penner said the polygamy case was a top priority.

"Bountiful and polygamy are quite disturbing to me, and I strongly support the legislation [that makes polygamy a criminal code offence]," Penner said.

"I'm offended by any suggestion of what has been alleged to have taken place [12-year-olds becoming brides] is akin to marriage ... What this sounds like is a middle-aged man who wanted to have sex with children."

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Annie Linteau said police are preparing to visit Bountiful as part of the probe.

"Obviously we can't discuss what we are doing in the context of the investigation, but eventually we will have to attend [Bountiful]," she said Friday.

The evidence came to light as part of the constitutional reference case before the B.C. Supreme Court that will determine the validity of Canada's polygamy law.

Linteau confirmed investigators received the evidence last week and have launched a criminal investigation.

"We're aware of the affidavits filed by the attorney-general's office," she said. "We initiated an investigation into those allegations and the investigation is ongoing."

Linteau could not say what charges the RCMP might consider.

This is the second time the RCMP has investigated the community; in 2006, Mounties probed two leaders of the Bountiful branch of the controversial Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

However, the eventual charges against Winston Blackmore and James Oler were thrown out in 2009.

A year earlier, Wendy Wiens, team leader for the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development, received a fax from Angie Voss, a child protective-services supervisor in Texas, outlining how a 13-year-old girl from Bountiful had been taken illegally to the United States by her parents and married to polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. At the time, Jeffs was 48 and a fugitive, running from charges related to having had sex with minors.

The fax was sent five months after Texas authorities had raided FLDS's Yearning for Zion ranch and taken into care close to 400 women and children.

Contacted in Creston Friday, Wiens said she would not comment on anything to do with the Bountiful case.

Christine Ash, a spokeswoman for the ministry, wouldn't comment either, saying the case was before the courts.

"Whenever the ministry is made aware of a possible child-protection issue, it will assess what that is and follow up accordingly, as to whether there is a protection concern; however, the ministry has no jurisdiction outside of B.C's borders," said Ash.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth, expressed concern the Ministry of Children would not address the issue.

"The ministry cannot hide behind privacy at this point, when there is a constitutional reference on the issue," she said.

"The public needs to know that when there is an allegation that comes forward that a child may be subject to some form of sexual exploitation, that that is promptly and thoroughly investigated."

She was "deeply troubled" that over the last four years, despite an RCMP investigation and court challenges, the public remains in the dark about what might be happening with adolescent girls at Bountiful.

"We have a very important set of public values to address here, and it may engage the criminal law, it may engage child welfare, and it may require us to rethink a few things," Turpel-Lafond said. "I hope [the RCMP] has a team that will look at the issue completely, because I think at this rate there are some very significant concerns about the wellbeing of some children from British Columbia."

NDP MLA Dawn Black, an outspoken critic of polygamy, said she was upset that the government has not been able to protect the girls at Bountiful.

"It is totally unacceptable, if these allegations are correct, in a society like ours. This is [alleged] abuse of children."

About 800 to 1,000 people live in Bountiful, all members of the breakaway fundamentalist Mormon sect.

This article was found at:


CBC News  -  The Canadian Press     February 28, 2011

Polygamist welcomes new child bride probe

One of the leaders of Bountiful, B.C., Winston Blackmore, says he welcomes an investigation into allegations young girls from the polygamous community were taken to the United States to be wed.

Court documents allege eight girls between the ages of 12 and 18 were married off to American men between 2004 and 2006 – including three to jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

Blackmore leads one of two divided factions within Bountiful, an isolated community in southeastern B.C.'s Creston Valley, not far from the U.S. border. Residents practise a form of fundamentalist Mormonism, which, unlike the mainstream church, still condones polygamy.

The shocking allegations surfaced at court hearings into Canada's polygamy laws and have prompted a renewed criminal investigation by the RCMP. They appear to involve girls from the other side of the divided commune, led by James Oler.

Community divided into factions

Blackmore says he has only heard details of the alleged marriages — and the latest criminal investigation to target the community — from news reports. His side of the community has very little contact with Oler's, which is thought to be more traditional and strict.

"I heard about it from the media, I had not heard about it," Blackmore told The Canadian Press during a weekend interview, sitting inside a newly constructed building that contains a community centre and a prayer space.

"If they're investigating the story we read about, I think they should look into it and see what's happening there. If that is a fact, I'm really disturbed about that myself."

The alleged marriages took place between 2004 and 2006 and involved a total of nine girls — eight from Bountiful, who were married to American men, and a 16-year-old girl from the U.S., who was married to man from Bountiful and subsequently moved there.

Records produced in court stem from the sensational 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch, a polygamous compound run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — also known as the FLDS — near Eldorado, Texas.

Bountiful has about 1,000 residents who follow the same branch of fundamentalist Mormonism. Oler's faction is officially linked to the FLDS, while Blackmore's congregation split from that church nearly a decade ago.

The court documents allege three girls — two 12-year-olds and a 13-year-old — were taken to the United States by their parents and married to jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs, who was in his late 40s and early 50s when the marriages occurred, is currently in a Texas jail awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault and bigamy.

Five other girls from Bountiful, between the ages of 16 and 18, were married to other American men. Oler was present for some of those so-called celestial marriages, the documents say, and he "personally delivered" some of the girls to be wed.

New investigation launched

The province's attorney general forwarded details of the allegations to the RCMP, which announced last week it had launched a new criminal investigation.

The Mounties have targeted the community several times in the past, most recently when Blackmore and Oler were each charged with practising polygamy in 2009.

Those charges were thrown out in court after a judge ruled the attorney general of the day, Wally Oppal, was wrong to appoint a new special prosecutor after previous prosecutors had decided against laying charges.

Blackmore, who has been fiercely critical of Oppal, said the case cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I think it's more than a witch hunt, and I think I'm not the only person who feels like that," said Blackmore, dressed in work overalls and wearing a black baseball hat.

Blackmore was charged with having 19 wives, but the court heard he's been married to at least two dozen women and has fathered more than 130 children. He declined to confirm those numbers.

The court has heard testimony from experts, former residents of polygamous communities and current plural wives, who have debated the alleged harms of polygamy. Closing arguments will begin late next month.

Oler's group is participating in the case, although his lawyer didn't address the new allegations when they came up in court last Friday. The lawyer hasn't responded for a call seeking comment on the RCMP investigation.

Blackmore is boycotting the constitutional hearings because he was denied government funding.

"I haven't been following it. I only heard one report on it, and that was almost by mistake," said Blackmore.

"When they wanted us to participate in this reference, I was left with a choice: take care of family or interfere with this polygamy case. I have done what I feel like is the thing that any family person in Canada would have expected me to do, take care of my family."

Experts and former residents have told the court that polygamy is always harmful to women and children, inevitably leading to physical and sexual abuse, child brides, teen pregnancies and human trafficking between polygamous communities.

Blackmore categorically rejected those claims.

"I think that's not true, it's just not," he said. "You could make the same argument that monogamy is harmful to women and children, because of the statistics out there in relation to monogamous marriages."

BC government failed to act on evidence of child bride trafficking after 2008 Texas raid on polygamists

Canadian Muslim polygamists closely watching landmark constitutional case on Canadian polygamy law

Rape charge dropped in plea deal for FLDS man who married 14 year old cousin, pleads guilty to lesser charges

Jeffs retakes legal control of FLDS from prison, court rules Utah illegally took over sect's property trust

Intellectual abuse of Mormon fundamentalist children means few will finish high school or go to college

Utah authorities say ruling in Canadian polygamy case will have no bearing on US law

Stop Polygamy in Canada website has notes taken by observers in the courtroom as well as links to most of the affidavits and research the court is considering in this case.

Final arguments in Canadian constitutional hearing on polygamy will be broadcast on TV and Web

Canadian polygamy case hears evidence on high rates of teen pregnancies in fundamentalist Mormon community

For Mormon polygamists in Canadian case religious freedom means enslaving women, sexualizing girls, exploiting boys

Two more plural wives testify in Canadian polygamy case, see no problem with forced marriage or trafficking child brides

Testimony of first FLDS witness in Canadian polygamy case reveals women in denial that their children are being abused

First anonymous FLDS witness in Canadian polygamy case paints cosy picture of plural marriage, seems oblivious to abuses

Affidavit in Canadian polygamy case reveals shocking statistics on child trafficking, child brides and teen mothers in Bountiful

Economics professor considers financial aspects of polygamy that create inequality

Two Mormon fundamentalist women from Utah tell Canadian court positive accounts of polygamy, no hint of abuse

Brother of FLDS bishop describes intellectual abuse, child labour, spiritual abuse and loveless religion in Canadian polygamy case

No freedom from religion for women and children in Mormon polygamist towns where men claim religious freedom to abuse

Mormon polygamist survivor tells court babies smothered to keep quiet, emotional and spiritual abuse worse than sex abuse

Video testimony by Mormon fundamentalist in Canadian court says polygamy provides happy life and harms no one

Survivor tells Canadian court extreme abuses including water torture of babies common in Mormon polygamist communities

FLDS bishop of Bountiful will not testify in Canadian polygamy case so his affidavit will not be read into record

Legal expert tells Canadian court polygamy prohibitions and monogamy tradition pre-date Christianity

The issue of women's rights in the Canadian constitutional review of the polygamy law

Before holiday break in constitutional case judge hears conflicting expert testimony on harms associated with polygamy

Expert in polygamy case says society should assume all members of sects have free choice, but what about children?

B.C. government expert in polygamy case sets out long list of social harms, societies that abandon polygamy do better

Court views video affidavits from Mormon fundamentalist survivors detailing pedophilia, incest, child trafficking and forced marriage

Polygamy expert tells court in constitutional case that it reduces women's freedom and equality and leads to forced marriage

Affidavits from survivors and psychologist's testimony in constitutional case show abusive nature of polygamous lifestyle

Expert witness in constitutional case on polygamy claims Bountiful women freely choose their own religious oppression

Judge allows controversial expert witness to testify in Canadian polygamy case, no decision yet on publication of video affidavits

Pro-polygamy intervenor groups make opening statements as first week of Canadian constitutional case ends

FLDS lawyer in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy claims members freely consent to plural marriage, abuse survivors disagree

Lawyer appointed to argue for striking down Canada's anti-polygamy law in constitutional case makes opening arguments

Canadian constitutional case on polygamy begins with BC government's opening statement

Unique Canadian constitutional case on polygamy set to begin November 22, 2010

Timeline of events leading up to Canadian constitutional case on polygamy which is set to begin

Survivor of abuse by Mormon polygamists documents accounts of sex crimes in the FLDS and other fundamentalist groups

Mormon fundamentalist leader asks court to exclude evidence against him in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy

Fundamentalist Mormon spokeswoman says polygamy doesn't hurt anyone

Mormon fundamentalist claims of religious persecution in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy not supported by the facts

Polygamist leader says BC attorney general guilty of religious persecution

Polygamist leader calls charges religious persecution

More persecution than prosecution

Second Mormon polygamist found guilty of child sex assault, jury doesn't buy defense claim of religious persecution

Claims of persecution ridiculous in societies where Christians have special privileges to indoctrinate children

More pro-polygamy affidavits by Mormon fundamentalists filed in Canadian constitutional case set to begin in November

Judge will allow anonymous testimony from Mormon polygamists in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy

Mormon polygamists seek immunity from future prosecution before giving evidence in Canadian constitutional case

Canadian constitutional case on polygamy triggered by Mormon fundamentalists, but will also examine Muslim communities

Utah law professor uses Mormon polygamists as example of how religious extremism leads to deliberate child abuse

Polygyny and Canada’s Obligations under International Human Rights Law (pdf)

Research paper submitted to B.C. court in constitutional case documents harms associated with polygamy

Man from Bountiful says girls in Mormon polygamist communities "treated like poison snakes", taught to obey men and have many children

Bountiful evidence that polygamy harms women and children - constitutional case likely to reach Canadian Supreme Court

Review of the positions 12 intervener groups are expected to take in upcoming Canadian constitutional case on polygamy

Some religious practices, such as polygamy, are inherently harmful and should not be tolerated in modern society 

Women's adovcates: polygamy is an “oppressive institution” that abuses and enslaves women and children

Prosecuting Polygamy in El Dorado by Marci Hamilton

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearings on Polygamy Crimes: What Needs to Be Done at the Federal Level to Protect Children from Abuse and Neglect

Senate hearing: "Crimes Associated with Polygamy: The Need for a Coordinated State and Federal Response."

Texas Will Attempt to Show That Polygamist Culture Itself Harms Children

FLDS defendants complain their religious freedom violated, while denying religious freedom to their children

Children in Bountiful have religious rights too, but are denied them by parents claiming religious freedom 

Some Canadian children are protected from religion-related abuse, while others are not

Polygamy is not freedom

Israeli politicians and women's advocates call for immediate change to polygamy law to protect rights of women and children

New study on polygamy in Malaysia finds evidence of harm to everyone involved

Indonesian Women's Association divided on whether polygamy, which is legal in Indonesia, is harmful to women and children


  1. Trip to Texas will help Mounties get their men in Bountiful


    Canadian law enforcement officers have yet to see the explosive evidence used in Texas last month to send polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs to prison for life for sexually abusing underage girls. It's evidence that could potentially be used against Canadian members of his fundamentalist Mormon sect.

    It's not that the RCMP is unwilling to send officers. Rather, Texas Rangers and state prosecutors need to give them access to the evidence; some of which may be needed for the October trial of Merril Jessop, another prominent member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But if Texas is willing, RCMP officers will head south next month.

    Jeffs was convicted of having had sex with two underage girls. Both were American, but evidence indicates that at least five of Jeffs' 24 underage wives are Canadian and that Jeffs had presided over more than 550 bigamous or polygamous marriages including 100 involving girls under the age of 18.

    The documents used to convict Jeffs include: church records detailing marriages with names, ages, marriage dates and locations; Jeffs' diary entries and letters describing how to sneak underage brides across the Canada-U.S. border for marriage ceremonies; audiotapes of Jeffs instructing his wives as well as one made as he raped a young girl; and photographs, including some nude pictures of Jeffs' wives that were found on computer hard drives.

    RCMP and the B.C. attorneygeneral's lawyers already have a list of 31 underage girls with Canadian connections. But a new list has been pieced together by researchers who gained access to the Texas documents simply by going to the courthouse. It includes the girls' birth dates, marriage dates, names of their husbands and the names of both the brides' and grooms' parents.

    There are 30 Canadian girls on the list that spans 1990 to 2006. The brides ranged in age from 12 to 17 on their wedding days. There are also 23 Americans listed, who became the child brides of Canadian men. The daughters of the most powerful and influential men in Bountiful are listed as the brides not only of the sons of patriarchs, but the old men themselves.

    Among the Canadians are five of Jeffs' 78 brides. Two were 12, one was 13 and two were 16 on their wedding days. The three youngest were singled out as Jeffs' Quorum of 12 and their names are mentioned on the tapes of Jeffs giving them special training on how to please him sexually.

    Although most of the marriages took place in the United States between 1990 and 2006, at least eight weddings were performed in Bountiful.

    read the full article at:


  2. RCMP takes child-bride investigation to Texas

    Police search for Bountiful links to convicted pedophile and Mormon sect leader Warren Jeffs

    By Evan Duggan, Vancouver Sun November 25, 2011

    RCMP officers will be in Texas from Dec. 12 to 16 to gather information about underage Canadian girls believed to have been victimized by Warren Jeffs, the convicted pedophile and leader of a fundamentalist Mormon group.
    Sgt. Terry Jacklin of the Southeast District Major Crime Unit said the officers will meet with state lawyers and members of the Texas Rangers to discuss the connection between Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and girls allegedly sent to him by their families in Bountiful, a polygamous community in B.C.

    The RCMP has been planning the trip for several months but it was delayed until authorities in Texas became available, he said, adding the timing of the trip has nothing to do with a B.C. Supreme Court decision this week upholding Canada's anti-polygamy laws.

    "We've been trying to get down there for months," Jacklin said. "But [Texas authorities] have been involved with prosecutions of different FLDS members."

    Earlier this year, RCMP contacted Texas authorities after learning of 31 child brides with connections to Bountiful. The information was based on Jeffs' dictated diaries and other records filed in advance of his Texas trial. The list was also filed as evidence in B.C. Supreme Court's constitutional reference case.

    In Texas, the jury found Jeffs guilty of sexually assaulting two underage girls, aged 12 and 14, whom he had taken as "spiritual brides." He was sentenced in August to life in prison plus 20 years - a total of 119 years.

    The RCMP received the green light for their visit by Texas authorities on Nov. 17, Jacklin said. Authorities in Texas recently wrapped up their latest prosecution of an FLDS bishop, 75-year-old Fredrick Merrill Jessop, who was found guilty this month of conducting an illegal wedding ceremony between then-50-year-old Jeffs and an underage girl.

    Jessop's conviction resulted in a 10-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine.

    "That was their last prosecution ... which basically freed them up to meet with us," Jacklin said, confirming the trip is to investigate cross-border transfers of underage girls into the U.S.


  3. Polygamy is crime; enforce the law

    Vancouver Sun Editorial November 25, 2011

    For many years, successive B.C. attorneys-general refused to charge polygamists in Bountiful, and the excuse was always the same: The law likely infringes the polygamists’ freedom of religion, the A-Gs maintained, and therefore the law would not withstand a constitutional challenge.

    Like many predictions, that went down in flames this week, as B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman upheld the law. He concluded that while the law does infringe freedom of religion, the infringement is justified because polygamy is inherently harmful.

    Indeed, Bauman spent a great deal of time reviewing the testimony of expert witnesses who have studied polygamy in both fundamentalist Mormon and Muslim communities around the world. In every case, they found that polygamy harms women, men and children.

    Women in plural marriages tend to suffer from higher rates of depression and other mental health problems, and are also at greater risk of physical abuse than women in monogamous relationships. Polygamous women also enjoy little economic freedom or security, particularly if and when they end the relationship.

    Yet while women are often unequal to men in polygamous communities, the men, too, suffer. Notably, given the competition for brides, many young men are drummed out and forced to survive in an unfamiliar world with little in the way of education or life skills.

    As one can gather, children might very well suffer the most. Children of plural marriages experience higher rates of abuse and neglect, higher rates of emotional and behaviour problems, and lower rates of educational success.

    It was this testimony of the harms of polygamy, and the fact that they seem to occur whenever and wherever polygamy exists, that led Bauman to conclude the practice is inherently harmful. That provided him with good reason to conclude that the polygamy law is a reasonable infringement of the right to freedom of religion.

    But it provides something else as well: Specifically, it provides law enforcement with a good reason to pursue charges against polygamists in B.C. Since the law has withstood a constitutional challenge, the fear that the law will be struck down is gone. But more importantly, given the myriad harms caused by polygamy, law enforcement risks compounding those dangers if it refuses to do its job.

    Certainly, Bauman’s decision might be appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal and ultimately, to the Supreme Court of Canada. And, certainly, those courts could come to a different conclusion. But given the finding that polygamy is inherently harmful, it will be difficult to strike it down.

    In any case, an appellate court decision is months, or more likely, years away. During that time, many women, men and children could be adversely affected. If law enforcement personnel refuse to proceed, then shame on them. And if we, the people of B.C., fail to demand that law enforcement does its job — if we allow the situation in Bountiful to continue — then shame on us.