4 Jun 2011

Mormon fundamentalist leader must testify in tax case and reveal details of polygamy and child brides in Bountiful



Vancouver Sun  -  Canada    June 8, 2011

Polygamous leader's tax trial set for January


By Daphne Bramham | Vancouver Sun



Polygamous leader Winston Blackmore will testify under oath for the first time about his ‘lifestyle’ during his 12-day trial in federal Tax Court begins Jan. 23, 2012.

Blackmore had asked for an unprecedented ban on the publication and use of any witness testimony or evidence related to polygamy during his tax trial so that none of that information could be used against him in any future criminal trial. His motion was denied by Judge Campbell Miller. Blackmore is not appealing the decision and now has three months to pay the $50,000 in court costs that Miller ordered him to pay.

Polygamy is illegal in Canada, but the law is under review by Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court, who was asked by the B.C. government to determine if the criminal sanction is constitutional since the Charter of Rights guarantees religious freedom and freedom of expression.

Blackmore’s unprecedented request was denied earlier this month, clearing the way for his trial which is also a precedent-setting case to determine how he and his extended family ought to be taxed.

Blackmore is appealing the reassessment of his personal income tax filings for 2002 to 2006 that concluded he had under-estimated his earnings by $1.5 million and the $147,000 he was assessed in penalties.

At issue is whether Blackmore’s large family (which includes 19 or more wives and more than 130 children), plus his extended family of siblings and their multiple wives and children constitute a "congregation" for tax purposes.

The government of Canada says they don’t. Up until 2002 when he was ex-communicated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Blackmore was the bishop of the congregation in Bountiful, B.C. Since then, the government says he and his family are not "a constituent part of any religious organization."

In Tax Court, it’s up to the taxpayer to prove that the government’s interpretation is wrong. So, it will be up to Blackmore, his wives and others to prove that they all lived and worked together and share beliefs. And under cross-examination, lawyers for Canada will be able to ask questions about all of that including how many wives Blackmore had during the disputed tax years and where they all lived.

This article was found at:

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thinktank/archive/2011/06/08/polygamous-leader-s-tax-trial-set-for-january.aspx

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CBC News - Canada June 3, 2011

Polygamist leader to testify at tax trial




The testimony of polygamist leader Winston Blackmore at his tax trial won't be protected by a publication ban, meaning the public may soon learn much more about the inner workings of the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C.

Blackmore is facing charges in federal court in Vancouver for allegedly owing up to $1 million in back taxes. At issue is whether his community qualifies as a religious congregation under the law.

Blackmore had specifically asked the court to ban the publication of testimony related to polygamy. His lawyer told the court Blackmore is worried such evidence could be used against him in a potential criminal prosecution.

But Justice Campbell Miller ruled Blackmore himself has given numerous interviews on the subject and also found any criminal proceedings that might arise would be too far in the future to prejudice a jury.

The judge has also declined Blackmore's request that he be immune from criminal prosecution for any evidence he gives in the tax case.

Details about polygamist community expected

CBC lawyer Dan Burnett says once the trial gets underway, it will be the first time Blackmore will be compelled to testify under oath at a trial.

"I expect you're going to hear some information about the practices and approaches and beliefs in the community we haven't heard before," Burnett said.

"There will be no restriction on the public being able to hear and see all the evidence as to the issue in the case, which even though it's a tax case, it's about whether Bountiful is a congregation within the meaning of the Tax Act, and that's going to get into what beliefs they share spiritually and all that."

The trial was set to begin Monday but was postponed while the judge ruled on Blackmore's request for a publication ban. Blackmore could still appeal Friday's decision, and a new date for the start of the trial has yet to be set.

No ruling on polygamy laws

B.C. Crown lawyer Craig Jones has said it's no secret Blackmore is a polygamist, and the tax case will force him to talk about marriages among 12- and 13-year-olds in the community.

Blackmore could still face criminal charges in connection with his marriages, even though two past attempts to prosecute him for polygamy have failed.

The chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court is expected to rule later this year on the constitutionality of the law banning polygamy following a special months-long hearing in Vancouver that ended in April.

Chief Justice Robert Bauman spent several months hearing testimony and legal arguments about whether the prohibition against multiple marriages is constitutional, and much of the case focused on allegations of abuse in the small religious commune of Bountiful.

If Bauman rules the ban on polygamy is permissible under the Charter or Rights, the B.C. government is likely to renew its prosecution of Blackmore, it has indicated.


This article was found at:


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Vancouver Sun  -  June 4, 2011

Tax Court gets interesting when polygamist comes to town

Winston Blackmore denied a sweeping publication ban that would have shielded evidence and testimony from the public eye

By Daphne Bramham



The federal Tax Court is a genteel place, a white-collar court where the only crime being tried is tax evasion.

Unlike provincial courts, no sheriffs in bulletproof vests stand guard. Instead, a single commissionaire sits behind a desk on the sixth floor of an office building at the heart of downtown Vancouver.

He politely asks people to hang up their coats and leave umbrellas and bags in the closet. That done, he reminds them to turn cellphones off.

But high-profile polygamist Winston Blackmore brought some chaos into the calm world this week, along with his tax troubles, of which he has $1.5 million worth for the years 2000 to 2006.

He asked for unprecedented shielding of evidence and testimony. He wanted a publication ban and an order from Judge Campbell Miller that none of it could be used in any future criminal trial involving polygamy.

And if that weren't possible, Blackmore asked that his tax trial be adjourned until after the reference case on the constitutionality of Canada's polygamy law is finally determined or until any future criminal trial (with him as the defendant) was completed.

He didn't get any of it. But if his intent was to delay, that much he got at a price of $50,000 to be paid to the Department of Justice for its costs.

Blackmore's audacious motion attracted journalists and their lawyers as well as lawyers from B.C.'s attorney-general's ministry.

In Courtroom 601, where arcane sections of Canada's thick tax acts are normally debated and parsed, Craig Jones (B.C.'s lead lawyer in the polygamy reference case) raised the spectre of child brides and human trafficking victims.

If Miller were to grant such an unprecedented shield on evidence, Jones argued that Miller could be thwarting prosecutions of those crimes as well if he granted Blackmore's request.

The Tax Court judge made it clear that none of this made him happy. He wasn't happy that the motion was filed two working days before the trial's scheduled start, even though two weeks earlier Blackmore's lawyer David Davies had assured Miller there were no impediments to the trial.

The judge wasn't happy with media lawyers and a lawyer from the B.C. attorney-general's ministry in his court.

It's not that Miller -a legal scholar with a master's degree in law (first class) from Cambridge University -wasn't up to dealing with this unprecedented motion.

Even though several times, the judge expressed surprise at the "paucity of jurisprudence on incriminating evidence from civil suits being used in criminal matters," it took him only one day to craft his crisp, oral decision rendered Friday.

Miller denied every aspect of Blackmore's motion even as he expressed "real concern" that the government could use the Tax Court "as fertile, fact-finding territory" to gather evidence for criminal charges against polygamists or drug dealers.

He said citizens are already disadvantaged in Tax Court because the onus is on them to "demolish" the assumptions the government makes in its tax assessments.

Miller did rule that Blackmore is a "compellable witness" even though Davies didn't ask for that.

The judge said it could provide Blackmore some protection from evidence being used to incriminate him in a future trial.

Further, Miller suggested Davies subpoena witnesses to support Blackmore's contention that he, his family and other residents of Bountiful constitute a "congregation." That way, Miller said, the witnesses can argue in any future criminal trial that their testimony was not freely given.

Although agreeing that Blackmore raised an important issue of selfincrimination in civil courts, Miller objected to his timing and ordered Blackmore to pay $50,000 to the government for extra costs incurred by the trial's delay.

He didn't, however, agree with the government that no trial be set until the bill is paid, even though the government has reason for concern that Blackmore's cheque might not arrive. In April 2010, Blackmore had $5.68 million in debt and only $867,000 in assets, according to an affidavit filed in B.C. Supreme Court. He was pleading penury to support an unsuccessful attempt to have taxpayers fund his participation in the constitutional reference case.

Miller gave Davies until Wednesday to get Blackmore's instructions regarding an appeal of the Friday ruling. If there's no appeal, a trial date will be set.

With all that decided, the Tax Court then returned to normal -at least until Blackmore's trial begins.


This article was found at:

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Court+gets+interesting+when+polygamist+comes+town/4893305/story.html


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Mormon fundamentalist asks court to prevent evidence in tax trial from being used in criminal cases related to polygamy


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


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


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


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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.


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43 comments:

  1. Polygamist communities sent teens to work long hours for low pay

    BY SHEILA PRATT, POSTMEDIA NEWS SEPTEMBER 25, 2011

    EDMONTON — Truman Oler was 17 when he made the long drive to Sundre from his home in Bountiful, B.C., the base of Canada’s controversial polygamous sect, Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.

    Like dozens of other FLDS teenage boys, Oler left high school after Grade 9 and, at 15, he was working full time for a company owned by Bountiful’s bishop, Winston Blackmore.

    Blackmore, who eventually had more than 20 wives, sent Oler to Alberta to work in his post and pole mill in Sundre, a small town southwest of Red Deer near the foothills. That was the late 1990s. The Sundre site, first owned by J.R. Blackmore and Sons and later by Oler Bros. Contracting, was still operating in Sundre until the spring of 2009.

    Documents obtained by The Journal show the FLDS company did business with dozens of Alberta companies by the time it folded. Court documents also raised questions about working conditions and pay in the FLDS company.

    Oler, like his fellow FLDS workers, believed if he obeyed the rules, paid his tithes and followed the bishop’s teachings, he might be assigned a wife, a place to build a home, perhaps another wife. That was the promise.

    Oler was determined to be faithful. “I just never looked for a way out,” he recalled in a recent interview with The Journal.

    At first, the crew worked day and night shifts making fence posts for a large local mill. Later, Blackmore and Sons got into logging on contract and workers cut timber and de-limbed trees.

    For a while, the young men drove the six hours back to Bountiful twice a month to attend church meetings and see family, recalled Truman, whose father had six wives and 47 children. Truman Oler was 13th of the 15 children by his mother, Memory Oler.

    While the plight of teenage brides has garnered much attention in the story of Bountiful, there is another dark side to the polygamous sect — the young men and women used as cheap labour for FLDS companies whose futures were totally dependent on a bishop’s decisions.

    Dozens of these young people came to the Sundre area to work for Blackmore and Sons, and later Oler Bros., businesses that helped support the polygamous community back in British Columbia.

    The story of the young people in Alberta, as Oler’s account reveals, is one of low pay, long hours and isolation. Occasionally, a young man would be kicked out for breaking the rules; some would leave on their own. Known as “lost boys,” they were left to cope with no family support, no financial support and little education.

    Experts who gave evidence last winter in a B.C. court reference on the legality of polygamy noted that surplus young men are often sent away to work to reduce the competition for young wives desired by the older men — as well as provide cheap labour.

    A judgment is expected soon in the B.C. court reference that will determine the legality of polygamy under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    read the rest of the article at:

    http://www.canada.com/life/story.html?id=5454783

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  2. Canada's polygamy laws upheld by B.C. Supreme Court

    CBC News November 23, 2011


    B.C. Supreme Court has upheld Canada's polygamy laws, but says minors who end up in polygamous marriages should be exempt from prosecution.

    In a 335-page decision released on Wednesday, Chief Justice Robert Bauman ruled in favour of the section of the Criminal Code outlawing polygamous unions. [ read the full decision at:
    http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/11/15/2011BCSC1588.htm ]

    In his ruling, Bauman said while the law does infringe on religious freedom, it is justified given the harm polygamy causes to children, women and society.

    “I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm,” Bauman wrote in the decision that was handed down Wednesday morning in Vancouver.

    “More specifically, Parliament’s reasoned apprehension of harm arising out of the practice of polygamy. This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.”

    But he suggested the law shouldn’t be used to criminalize minors who find themselves married into polygamous unions.

    The decision follows 42 days of legal arguments from a wide variety of groups interested in the constitutionality of Section 293 of the Criminal Code.

    The ruling was welcomed by B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond in Victoria, who called the decision a "landmark" ruling that sends a clear message upholding the laws.

    "As Chief Justice Robert Bauman recognized, this case is about two competing visions — one of personal harm versus state intrusion. As he clearly found, there is profound harm associated with polygamy, particularly for women and children," said Bond.

    Bond said she was pleased with the result, but would not say if B.C. intends to launch a third attempt to prosecute polygamists in the religious community of Bountiful.

    The ruling was also welcomed by Brian Samuels, the lawyer for the group Stop Polygamy in Canada.

    "I think it's a well reasoned and comprehensive decision," said Samuels.

    Likewise, Canada's polyamorists — people with multiple partners outside a religious context — said they were relieved because Bauman said the law shouldn't apply to them unless they decide to formalize their unions.

    "The formality of marriage is really not a big issue in the polyamorous community," said John Ince, the spokesman for the Canadian Polyamoury Advocacy Association.

    But George MacIntosh, the lawyer appointed by the court to argue against the law, said the decision unfairly criminalizes the actions of consenting adults and he may appeal the decision.

    "Three consenting adults who are causing no harm ought not to be committing a crime. The judge found that people in that circumstance are committing a crime if there was some celebration of the marriage, and we don't think that the section says that," said MacIntosh. ...

    read the rest of this article at:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/11/23/bc-polygamy-ruling-supreme-court.html

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  3. Bountiful leader denies polygamous community brainwashes, harms

    by DIRK MEISSNER, The Canadian Press November 23, 2011

    Bountiful, B.C.— Winston Blackmore says he has a load of drywall to unload from his truck and doesn’t have a lot of time to discuss court rulings – even if they essentially find his lifestyle damaging to women and children and could result in criminal charges.

    Mr. Blackmore said Wednesday successive B.C. governments have been persecuting his religious community of Bountiful in southeastern B.C. for decades and he wishes to be left alone rather than having to defend himself.

    He leaned against the stage of his recently-built community hall, wearing a black J.R. Blackmore and Sons baseball cap, boots, blue jeans and black leather jacket. But his blue eyes flashed, his relaxed demeanour quickly turned rigid, and his arms jutted outwards as he tried to swallow a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that found Canada’s 121-year-old polygamy law is valid.

    “I am who I am. We are who we are,” said Mr. Blackmore, 55. “And, you know, in 1985 it was a criminal act to commit adultery in Canada and somehow or other somebody got that changed. But an adulterer, somebody who committed adultery before 1985, is just as big a criminal as I am.”

    He said he always expected the polygamy case to end up before the Supreme Court of Canada, but despite his best efforts to shrug off Wednesday’s B.C. Supreme Court decision, Mr. Blackmore was clearly rankled about what he considers an attack on his community’s way of life.

    “This isn’t just a religious right, it’s our right to freely associate,” said Mr. Blackmore. “It’s the right for adults to freely associate. And so, to say, nothing good ever came out of polygamy, beyond ... for people who are associating adults, I don’t think that’s correct.”

    Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court Robert Bauman ruled the harms polygamy inflicts on women and children outweigh any claims to religious freedom.

    Mr. Blackmore said he’s just trying to raise his family the best way he knows and is adamant women are not brainwashed in Bountiful to accept polygamy. If any child is harmed, the police will investigate, he said.

    Mr. Blackmore, who once said he had at least a dozen wives and 100 children, would only call his family large on Wednesday, dismissing as stupid questions about an updated child count, other than to say he now has more grandchildren.

    “It’s plenty large enough,” said Mr. Blackmore about his family.

    He said he didn’t know about the status of an on-going RCMP investigation into allegations of child abuse in Bountiful.

    “They haven’t talked to me.”

    Mr. Blackmore said he’s heard about some situations in Bountiful – but not the people under his guidance – involved with underage marriages and moving young girls from Bountiful to be married in the United States.

    He said he believes people over 18 should be allowed to be in more than one marriage, but not people under 18.

    “None of my children are brainwashed,” Mr. Blackmore said. “They think for themselves. That’s the way they were raised – and I wasn’t [brainwashed] either.” ....

    read the rest of the article at:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-politics/bountiful-leader-denies-polygamous-community-brainwashes-harms/article2246820/

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  4. Winston Blackmore, Bountiful at centre of federal tax court fight

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun columnist January 23, 2012

    Bountiful is not a religious commune and, at best, one of its leaders Winston Blackmore is nothing more than patriarch of a large, polygamous family. That's what Justice Department lawyers will try to prove over the next three weeks in Federal Tax Court. In 2008, Canada Revenue Agency reassessed five years of Blackmore's personal income tax filings and determined that he under-estimated his earnings by $1.5 million.

    This is the first time the Federal Tax Court has heard a challenge to Section 143 of the Tax Act, which describes terms such as congregation, community and even what a religion is. Blackmore and his lawyer argue that the fundamentalist Mormon group that he belongs fits all of the criteria and because of that, Blackmore ought to share the tax burden of his personal and corporate earnings with others in the community.

    But Justice Department lawyer Lynn Burch said in her opening statement that Blackmore and Bountiful fail on every count. They don't all live and work together. There's no doctrinal prohibition on members owning property in their own right. And the members do not devote all of their work and efforts to the common good. Far from being a congregation as defined by the act, Burch said, "As best the appellant [Blackmore] is represents a splinter group of a splinter group.

    "He is twice removed the from episcopal legitimacy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [the mainstream Mormon church] . . . his group is not a constituent part of any organized religion."

    Blackmore and about 400 residents of Bountiful, B.C. -- most of whom are his family members -- broke with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or FLDS in 2002. The FLDS itself is a breakaway sect that is not even recognized by mainstream Mormons.

    Burch characterized what Blackmore is attempting to do is transfer his tax liabilities to a 'deemed' trust and spread that burden among the other community members "in some cases without their knowledge or their consent."

    She went on to say that if a religious leader is "described as a shepherd, the role of a good shepherd is to shear the sheep, not skin it."

    Blackmore - the first witness - acknowledged that even though he'd paid certified accountants to do his personal and corporate tax filings, he knew nothing about Section 143 until after he was reassessed and he hired Vancouver lawyer David Davies to act for him at the appeal.

    As Davies said in his opening statement, "It is not a situation where Mr. Blackmore planned his way into Section 143. It's his way of life."

    Blackmore, who continues his testimony this afternoon, noted that he was subpoenaed to the trial even though he brought the action. Because of that subpoena, anything Blackmore says in the tax court cannot be used against him in a criminal court. And, that protection may well prove important since the last week lawyer Peter Wilson was appointed special prosecutor by the B.C. Attorney general. Wilson will determine whether any criminal charges - other than polygamy - should be laid in Bountiful. Among charges he has been asked to consider are sexual exploitation, sexual abuse of a minor, procuring and human trafficking.

    Davies led Blackmore through his five years of tax filings and the difference between what Blackmore claimed and what the tax collectors say he owes. In 2001, for example, he claimed $26,500 in employment income and $5,000 in business income. Revenue Canada says what he should have claimed was $527,751. The penalty it assessed for that year alone was $63,999.

    Over the course of the trial, both sides will call experts to explain what Blackmore's group really is. The government also plans to call former members of the community.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Winston+Blackmore+Bountiful+centre+federal+court+fight/6039343/story.html

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  5. B.C. polygamous 'minister' strains to list wives in Tax Court fight

    By Andy Ivens, Postmedia News January 24, 2012 Vancouver Sun

    VANCOUVER — B.C. polygamist leader Winston Blackmore paused for a moment during his testimony in court on Tuesday trying to remember which of his 20 plural wives was No. 14.

    "Let me think about that for a minute," he asked Judge Diane Campbell of the Tax Court of Canada. After more than a minute of silent counting, his head bobbing for each wife, Blackmore had the answer. "Shirley Black," he announced.

    The leader of a polygamous group of families in Bountiful, B.C., is fighting an audit by Canada Revenue Agency that found he failed to report more than $1.5 million in income in the years 2000 to 2004 and 2006. Along with GST and any penalties and interest imposed, that figure could rise substantially if the government wins its case against him.

    It is the first time in history an individual is challenging the CRA on a section of the federal Tax Act that defines what constitutes a religion and a congregation. The government says his group is not a congregation under the act. Blackmore claims he is minister to approximately 400 followers in Bountiful and that they constitute a congregation, which should provide them an enormous break on taxes. Blackmore is the main shareholder of J.R. Blackmore and Sons (JRB), a large logging and forest products company with many holdings in southeastern B.C. and Idaho.

    But on his tax forms for the six years in question, he claims his and the other three directors' incomes were spread out over the entire congregation because they live communally and share their wealth, in accordance with their beliefs. The four directors claimed they supported their large families on incomes of between $15,000 and $45,000 in one year of the years that was audited. Blackmore said his huge family was able to get by on that because so much of the food they ate was provided by the farm they shared in common with the other families.

    In 2002, Blackmore was excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), leaving Bountiful a community divided roughly in half. The FLDS split from the mainstream Mormon church in 1890 over the issue of polygamy. It is not recognized by the mainstream Mormon church.

    Lawyer Lynn Burch of the federal Justice Department, cross-examined Blackmore on Tuesday on his living arrangements with his various wives and their more than 60 children. Burch asked Blackmore to list all 20 "plural wives," after his first wife Jane Blackmore, whom he legally married in 1975 and with whom they have seven children. Their marriage was recognized by the provincial government, but the next 20 are not.

    Jane, a midwife, left Winston and Bountiful in 2002 and bought a house in Cranbrook, B.C. They are now divorced. Blackmore said he did not actually live with any of his wives or children, but lives in "an apartment" in his late father's "old house." There is a separate apartment in the upstairs potion of the house in which one of his wives lives with her children on a rotating basis. Three of the most senior wives decide among themselves which of them is allowed to live in the upstairs apartment, although Winston said he has the last word. His other wives live in various houses sprinkled around Bountiful.

    Since a schism divided the community in 2002, with half the community following Blackmore and the other half following James Oler, Blackmore said his group has been "in limbo." He called a meeting with all 20 wives at the time of the split and told the group he didn't want any of them to stay with him against her will. "Eight or nine left," he said, including Jane in that group. ...

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Bountiful+religious+commune+polygamist+leader+tells+trial/6045992/story.html

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  6. Polygamist contradicts himself in tax court

    by TERRI THEODORE, Globe and Mail January 25, 2012

    VANCOUVER— The Canadian Press

    Polygamous leader Winston Blackmore acknowledges he may not be a prophet, but he’s a little less clear about whether or not he’s the leader of a church in southeast B.C. Mr. Blackmore is trying to make a case in the Tax Court of Canada for special status for his community in Bountiful, B.C. Under heated cross-examination Wednesday by federal lawyer Lynn Burch, Mr. Blackmore at first refused to answer whether or not he thought himself a prophet.

    “Answer the question Mr. Blackmore. It’s a yes or no,” Judge Diane Campbell said. “No,” he replied. “You don’t have a church?” Ms. Burch asked. “I have a church congregation, so I have a church,” he answered.

    But his testimony contrasts an interview Mr. Blackmore had with CNN’s Larry King, particularly when he insisted twice he didn’t have a church. “I don’t have a church, for one thing. I am just one of a lot of people who believe in the basic, simple fundamentals of our LDS faith and who are trying to live that way with our families,” he told Mr. King in a December 2006 interview.

    “Are you denying these statements?” Ms. Burch asked, as she read a transcript of the King interview. “No, I’m not,” he said.

    [...]
    In court Tuesday, Mr. Blackmore admitted to having 21 wives and at least 67 children. But on Wednesday, the name of another woman came up, and he had to clarify that she, too, was a wife, boosting the count to 22 wives. In earlier testimony, Mr. Blackmore said children as young as 12 in his community were working on logging loaders and skidders, earning well below the minimum wage. Mr. Blackmore said the boys from the community did all kinds of summer jobs for his company J.R. Blackmore and Sons Ltd., including rounding up cattle, bundling fence posts and working at the company’s logging operation.

    He said the children were kept away from anything dangerous, such as using a logging skidder on steep slopes. The skidder is a heavy tracker used to pull cut trees out of the forest in a process called skidding. The parents of the children often designated where the children would go, Mr. Blackmore said. “They were worried about risk, we all were.”

    He agreed that the company got the tax deduction it was entitled to for hiring the children, and they were issued T-4 slips for the money they earned, but he didn’t know if they filed tax returns. Mr. Blackmore couldn’t recall how much the children – all boys – were paid, but agreed when asked by Ms. Burch that it was probably less than a couple of dollars an hour. He said the children were issued cheques, and he would cash them, giving them money from a store operation that J.R. Blackmore also owned.

    “I didn’t have pockets full of cash,” he replied, when Ms. Burch asked him to explain why he would cash the boys’ cheques. Every summer, about 30 to 40 boys would work at various operations of the company, Mr. Blackmore said, adding it was difficult to find something for all the boys to do. “The mothers took charge of the girls. They wanted us to do something with the boys.”

    Mr. Blackmore said WorkSafe BC officials told the company in a meeting that anyone younger than 12 could not be put to work. “We tried to honour it,” he said.

    [...]

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/polygamist-contradicts-himself-in-tax-court/article2315333/

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  7. Will the taxwomen bring down the polygamist?

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun January 27, 2012

    Winston Blackmore may have finally met his match: the taxwomen.

    It's money - not polygamy, not a constitutional challenge to religious freedom and not criminal charges - that's landed Canada's best known polygamist in federal tax court testifying under oath and facing a pair of formidable, demanding and, at times, impatient women, Judge Diane Campbell and Justice Department lawyer Lynn Burch. And it's so much money that it's possible the government could bankrupt Blackmore and financially ruin two of his brothers (Kevin and Guy) as well as the companies that the three of them operate.

    The government claims he underestimated his income by $1.5 million over five years ending in 2006. Before his appeal, Blackmore and his company had been assessed back taxes, penalties and interest payments amounting to $4.3 million. If he loses the appeal, it's not clear how much more might be added in penalties, interest and court costs. Blackmore claims his group of about 500 fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful fit the definition of "religious congregation" under the Income Tax Act. The government says, at best, it's a breakaway sect of a breakaway sect (the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). At worst, it's one big, polygamous family looking for a tax break.

    Although he's a preacher, Blackmore was often scarcely audible, especially when the buskers started up outside The Bay across the street from the court. "Speak up," Campbell frequently urged him. She couldn't hear him. Journalists couldn't hear him. But Blackmore probably wants that. At times as Blackmore quoted from scriptures or tried to explain his beliefs, the judge - a lawyer from Prince Edward Island with a master of laws degree from Harvard - might have wondered why me? But, as one journalist mused, this may be her only tax case that will keep people amused over dinner.

    For three straight days, Burch poked away at Blackmore's credibility and reliability, producing page after page of documents whether it was in a sworn affidavit from another court or a transcript of an inter-view on CNN with Larry King proving where he had contradicted himself. As each day went by, his black suit became more rumpled. So did his answers and his demeanour. Burch interrupted him if he tried to go off on a tangent. She badgered him when he tried to skate away from the simple question: Do you consider yourself a prophet?

    continued in next comment

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Will+taxwomen+bring+down+polygamist/6060271/story.html

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    Burch asked and re-asked that one. Finally, with raised voice, Campbell ordered: "Answer the question, please. It's a simple yes or no." "No," he finally said. Did he want to take over the FLDS from jailed prophet Warren Jeffs? Did he want to start his own church? No. "You don't have a church," Burch asserted. "I have the priesthood work. I have a church congregation, so I have a church." "But the only followers are your family and you don't want any others?" "I have plenty."

    It was a flash of the defiant outlaw previously only seen on TV interviews and in documentaries rather than the small-town businessman/minister who showed up in court. What about tithes? He collects cash and keeps no record. " ... because it's nobody else's business?" Burch asked. "Everyone [in the community] knows what the money is used for," Blackmore replied. "That's not my question. You believe it's nobody else's business." "That is my belief," he said. "It is nobody's business."

    Once, Blackmore was ordered to raise $25,000 to prepare for "the worst" in response to the FLDS prophet's prophesy that the world was going to end - one of "maybe more than 15" such prophesies that Blackmore recalled. To get the money, Blackmore said he obtained an unsecured loan from the bank. Except for the all the tax money at stake, Blackmore was probably wishing for those days when he was still back at home in Bountiful with his 21 wives. He'd been asked to name them and he'd struggled. It wasn't possible to recall the years those 21 marriages took place, Blackmore told Campbell with a rueful smirk. The judge didn't return his smile.

    Oh sorry, Blackmore said the next day. There were really 22 wives. He'd forgotten one. As for children, 47 were born between 2000 and 2006. Were there others? Probably, he said. Burch suggested 20 more. Blackmore allowed that that was "probably fair." Burch spared both the judge and Blackmore the excruciating spectacle of him trying to name them.

    Blackmore's testimony provided myriad details about his lifestyle - both large and small. Unaffiliated fundamentalist Mormon men from Alberta, Utah and Missouri meet up with Blackmore's group at least once a year to talk about their beliefs and scope out marriage partners for their children. Blackmore's family dining room is in a separate, 3,000-square-foot building that seats 175 to 200. The kitchen is equipped with industrial-sized fridges, stoves and ovens where, each day, the wives bake 15 to 20 loaves of bread.

    Four of his wives are nurses and none was an accountant or a lawyer, which he might be wishing for now. Blackmore's wives (with their children) live in groups of two or three in houses in and around Bountiful including a house across the border in Por-thill, Idaho. He once had at least 15 credit cards in his name; only two that he used, the others were given to family members. He owned a four-seater plane and bought a box for Kootenay Ice hockey games before the new stadium in Cranbrook was even built. But the most bizarre detail? While he had 22 wives and 67 children, Winston Blackmore's home was a two-bedroom apartment that he shared with his mother. The tax trial is scheduled to continue for another two weeks.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Will+taxwomen+bring+down+polygamist/6060271/story.html

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  9. Winston Blackmore federal tax case hinges on church issue

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun January 31, 2012

    VANCOUVER - What is a church? It's the key issue before the Federal Tax Court in the trial to determine whether Winston Blackmore and his family - fundamentalist Mormon polygamists - qualify to be taxed as a group and not as individuals.

    At stake for Blackmore is a personal reassessment of $1.5 million and $4.3 million in unpaid taxes, fines and interests for both him and his companies.

    On Tuesday, an expert witness hired by Blackmore suggested that within the Mormon tradition, it's not as easy as it might appear or as Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney might like it.

    "There has been continual dispute about who is the head of the LDS church," John Walsh, an independent scholar and member of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Tuesday.

    Asked whether it's fair to say that from to say that there has been no consensus since Joseph Smith's death in 1844 until the present, Walsh replied: "Yes."

    Rather than a single church, Walsh uses the term "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" as an umbrella to describe everything from the mainstream LDS church in Salt Lake City to the Community of Christ (which was formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was founded by Smith's son) to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whose president Warren Jeffs is in jail for sexual misconduct with minors) and a raft of others.

    Walsh says within Mormon tradition, leaders are chosen by consensus from among a group of men who have priesthood authority. That authority is conferred on them by other priesthood members who trace their legitimacy back to Smith.

    He noted that it took several years before Smith's successor Brigham Young was affirmed.

    (In earlier testimony, Blackmore traced his "priesthood lineage" back to John Taylor, the third president of the mainstream LDS church. Taylor was succeeded by Wilford Woodruff, who issued a manifesto in 1890 ending the practice of polygamy.)

    The continued practice of polygamy is one of the key differences between the mainstream LDS and fundamentalist Mormons, Walsh said. But it isn't the only one.

    Some fundamentalists believe Smith's law of consecration means that they should attempt to live communally, while the mainstream church has chosen to interpreted that to mean that members pay 10 per cent of their gross income for the common good.

    Another key issue in Blackmore's trial is whether his income and property was "consecrated" to the church - i.e. shared with others in the community - even though it is held in his name.

    Walsh was not allowed to give his opinion on that.

    Judge Diane Campbell qualified him as an expert only on general Mormon doctrine and only after government lawyers spent most of a day trying to have him disqualified, arguing that he was not only being paid $250 a day to testify but because his previous writings expressed enthusiasm for polygamy and that his degrees were from institutions that did not have the best reputations.

    The trial continues and is now expected to take four weeks instead of the initial estimate of three weeks.

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  10. Religious beliefs keep money flowing into church company

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun February 1, 2012

    Ken Oler has two wives and 21 children. Until 2002, he worked for "the church company." For 17 years, he earned $1,600 a month supervising the logging, trucking and road-building operations.
    Of course, the family got child tax credits and his wife, Alice Blackmore, earned a teaching salary from Bountiful elementary-secondary school that averaged about $800 a month.

    After every paycheque, Oler went to the bank and took out the cash equivalent to 10 per cent of the family's total income. Oler would then hand it over to the bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) who would record it in the church record.
    The bishop was Winston Blackmore. Blackmore was also his boss and the 40-per-cent owner of J.R. Blackmore & Sons - the "church company."

    Oler could have earned more working somewhere else. But, he said, "It was a company that provided work for [people in] the community and helped do what was needed to provide infra-structure for the community." The Olers made ends meet by bartering labour for food and helping others in the community tend the 15-acre communal garden. They never saved.

    "In this community, we knew they were going to be there for us so there was not real need to build up a banking account." Any extra money Oler had, he gave to Blackmore to redistribute. He never asked for an accounting of where it was spent. Oler said he could see the "really tangible results."

    The Olers lived on church-owned property. He "consecrated" his labour and helped build the school, roads and the community's water system. But in 2002, Oler quit working for Blackmore, who had been excommunicated and replaced by Jim Oler, Ken's brother.

    "I don't know if I sided with my brother," Oler said Tues-day. "I maintained my beliefs as a Mormon. What keeps me doing what I'm doing are my beliefs as a Mormon." Oler, two of his sons and another brother started Oler Brothers Contracting, taking with them a contract that Ken had negotiated for "the church company."

    He also ended up with three pieces of equipment that were worth less than the money Blackmore's company owed on them. Three years later when the forestry industry fell on hard times, so did Oler and his company. Both were bankrupt and Oler had no real assets. The house he'd built was on land owned by the FLDS's United Effort Plan trust.

    He did it all because of his beliefs, which include polygamy, consecrating money, property and labour to the community, and tithing. But about six months ago, Oler left the FLDS and he and his three daughters moved to Alberta where he and two sons found work. The rest of his family stayed behind in Bountiful.

    "I was certainly not in agreement with some of the things that have gone on and some of the situations ... people [including FLDS president Warren Jeffs] have gone to prisons for some of those things [child sexual abuse] and I didn't believe in some of the church's philosophies, so I decided to leave."

    Oler testified Tuesday in Federal Tax Court about his life and beliefs on Blackmore's behalf. Blackmore is appealing a $1.5-million reassessment of his personal income for a five-year period between 2000 and 2006 and the $4.3 million worth of back taxes, penalties and interest owed personally and by his companies.

    And to avoid the back taxes and the interest that has continued to mount since the reassessment, Blackmore must prove that his group (comprised of about half of Bountiful's 1,000 residents) qualify under the federal Income Tax Act as a religious congregation.

    [...]

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Religious+beliefs+keep+money+flowing+into+church+company/6083417/story.html

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  11. Blackmore locked up property records, his sister and ex-bookkeeper testifies

    by Wendy Stueck, Globe and Mail February 02, 2012

    Polygamous community leader Winston Blackmore kept some business records out of sight and inaccessible, his sister and former bookkeeper told a tax hearing Thursday.

    Mr. Blackmore “had a locked cabinet where he kept things he didn’t want anybody to look at,” Marlene Palmer, 53, said in response to questions from Crown lawyer David Everett.

    Those included documents relating to property, she said, adding that “I didn’t get into that drawer.”

    Ms. Palmer testified in Federal Tax Court in Vancouver, where Mr. Blackmore is appealing tax reassessments by the Canada Revenue Agency that concluded Mr. Blackmore understated his earnings by $1.5-million between 2000 and 2006.

    Mr. Blackmore and his lawyers are arguing that Bountiful is a congregation and that Mr. Blackmore’s tax burden should be shared with other members of the community. The Crown, however, maintains that Bountiful does not fit the definition of a congregation and doesn’t deserve special tax status.

    Much of the testimony to date in the case has focused on whether Bountiful residents work outside the community and whether they were able to own their own property or vehicles or maintain individual bank accounts.

    Federal lawyers maintain that tax laws relating to congregations are designed for communities have no belongings of their own and work for a common purpose.

    Ms. Palmer testified she worked for J.R. Blackmore and Sons, the business most closely associated with Bountiful – a community in southeastern British Columbia that’s home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    The FLDS holds polygamy as a tenet of their faith. Ms. Palmer said she married at 17 despite wanting to go to school and said she left the FLDS after her son was kicked out of the community as a teenager.

    Her son was ejected from the community for having premarital sex, she said.

    A 2002 rift that resulted in some people in Bountiful following Mr. Blackmore and others staying loyal to James Oler, the leader favoured by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, also played a role in her decision, she said.

    “After my son was kicked out, I questioned what God was and what religion should be,” said Ms. Palmer, who grew up in Bountiful but no longer lives there. “So I didn’t go to Winston’s church.”

    The split tore families apart and she lost touch with some relatives, she said, adding that some women would tell her they were not supposed to speak with her because she was not “righteous.”

    Ms. Palmer, who said she has since obtained certification as a counsellor and licensed practical nurse, said she tried not to discuss her religious doubts with others

    “I am not a Winston-ite, I am not a Warren-ite – I am just me,” she recalled saying. “I love the people in the community – both sides – because it split my family right down the middle.”

    Ms. Palmer said she and others were expected to tithe, or provide 10 per cent of their income to church leaders – Mr. Blackmore at the time in question Mr. Blackmore – but that they weren’t told how the money was spent.

    Ms. Palmer also described practicing “famine” – an exercise in which families would try to get by on half of their regular budget and give the rest to the Mr. Blackmore.

    The routine went on for a few years running in the 1990s before people got discouraged and the practice was discontinued, Ms. Palmer said, adding that it was “about done” by 2000.

    Asked why she thought there were three such sessions in a row, Ms. Palmer said she thought it had to do with raising money for related FLDS communities in the United States.

    The hearing before Judge Diane Campbell resumes Monday.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/blackmore-locked-up-property-records-his-sister-and-ex-bookkeeper-testifies/article2325037/

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  12. B.C. polygamous leader 'not Al Capone,' tax trial told

    The Canadian Press May 4, 2012

    A federal government lawyer has dismissed suggestions that the Canada Revenue Agency is out to get polygamous leader Winston Blackmore in the same way that U.S authorities closed in on 1920s Chicago gangster Al Capone.

    In her final arguments Thursday in Blackmore's tax case, Lynn Burch told a Federal Tax Court that the religious leader's taxes weren't re-assessed because he faced polygamy charges, but because he's a taxpayer.

    "It would be inappropriate to consider that the taxman is the hammer coming in behind the [B.C.] attorney general. There's simply no evidence of that," Burch said, referring to the failed polygamy prosecution.

    "Mr. Blackmore is not Al Capone. Any suggestion of overlap between the activities of the attorney general and the Minister of National Revenue is not only unfounded, but quite inappropriate."

    Frustrated American prosecutors couldn't convict Capone — the leader of a prohibition-era crime gang — on criminal charges and instead a judge convicted him on tax evasion charges.

    Blackmore and James Oler were charged with practising polygamy in 2009, but the allegations were thrown out.

    The men each lead divided factions of a sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the southeast B.C. community of Bountiful.

    The dropped charges prompted the provincial government to launch a constitutional-reference trial on the issue of multiple marriages where a judge later upheld the law forbidding polygamy.

    In this case, the federal government alleges Blackmore owes $1.5 million in taxes over five years starting in 2000. His personal income tax during that time rarely went past $30,000.

    Blackmore disputed the claim in court saying his community of over 400 residents should have special tax status, similar to those of Hutterite colonies.

    But Burch told Federal Tax Court Judge Diane Campbell that Blackmore's community fails to meet every criterion that allows some religious communities to be taxed as a group. Burch told the judge Blackmore didn't meet the elements that give such religious groups tax status which included working and living together as a group and not owning any property.

    Instead, she said Blackmore used his company, J.R. Blackmore and Sons, to pay for the personal and living expenses of his family.

    "Mr. Blackmore continued on his merry way using company funds for family purposes, albeit a much larger family than we normally see in the courts," she said.

    Blackmore told the trial in earlier testimony that he had 21 wives and fathered 47 children during the tax period in question. A day after he gave that testimony he admitted he forgot one of his wives, and boosted the spouse count to 22.

    He was testifying under subpoena as a compelled witness making his testimony inadmissible in any later criminal trial.

    The RCMP has been investigating the practices of polygamous marriage in the community for decades, and late last year said they were investigating the community again, but this time over the issue of teen brides being sent over the U.S. border to marry older men.

    The trial, which started in January, was to last just three weeks. Instead it has been completed in stops and starts over four months.

    Final arguments are expected to be complete on Friday. There's no word on when the judge might give her ruling.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/05/03/bc-polygamous-leader-taxes.html

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  13. Polygamous leaders family shouldn't have special tax status: lawyer

    The Canadian Press Winnipeg Free Press May 4, 2012

    VANCOUVER - It's now up to a federal tax judge to decide whether the leader of the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C., is the head of a religious group that deserves special tax status, or whether he's simply the head of an unconventional and very large family without any such protection.

    The federal government has taken Winston Blackmore to court, claiming he underestimated his earnings by $1.5 million over a five-year period between 2000 and 2006.

    But in his final submission before the case is handed over to the judge for a ruling, Blackmore's lawyer, David Davies, to the Federal Tax Court Friday that Bountiful is a closed society and deserves the same special tax status afforded to other communities, like Hutterite colonies.

    Davies said the proof of that closed society comes in the actions of the community in everything from educating their own children to bride swapping.

    "As for the allegations about trafficking in brides, first of all in a closed society, it's apparent that this has to be done, because to draw within one's own ranks continually results in, obviously, consanguinity issues and the Hutterites apparently do the same."

    The Canadian Oxford dictionary defines consanguinity as a relationship with a common ancestor or blood relation.

    Blackmore wants special tax status under a section of the Income Tax Act that allows religious communities such as Hutterites to claim tax as a group.

    Davies said federal government lawyers are holding up the Hutterite colony has the "gold standard" for fitting into Section 143 of the act.

    "Yet the Bountiful community is pilloried for many of the same actions."

    The Hutterites work as a community, devote their time and effort to the single community, are given clothing, food and shelter, but they own nothing, he told the court.

    "This sounds remarkably like the just, wants and needs doctrine that governed the cash distribution within the community of Bountiful, that did not permit latitude for any personal savings."

    Lynn Burch, the lawyer for the federal government, said in her closing argument that Blackmore's organization is nothing more than a big, polygamous family which isn't worthy of the special status.

    Burch said Blackmore hasn't been able to prove his community belongs to any church — one of the mandatory elements allowing him to claim income as a group.

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    She said the leader of the southeast B.C. community can't claim he's a Mormon because that religion disavowed polygamy many years ago.

    "The appellant is a polygamist, he's admitted to having 22 wives," she pointed out to the court.

    Blackmore also admitted at the trial to having 47 children between 2000 and 2006.

    He testified on his own behalf during the trial, but under subpoena so his testimony couldn't be used in a criminal trial.

    Blackmore was excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, in 2002, dividing the community in half.

    About 400 of the 1,000-person congregation decided to follow Blackmore, the others stayed with James Oler, who was deemed the new leader by the head of the FLDS in the United States.
    Burch said there is no evidence that Blackmore has been part of any structured organization since then.

    "The appellant is twice removed from (religious) authority," she said.

    In 2009, both Blackmore and Oler were charged with practising polygamy, but the charges were later dropped.

    The controversy set off a constitutional reference case where a B.C. Supreme Court judge determined that the laws against plural marriage were legal.

    Blackmore told the court the money his company made, J.R. Blackmore and Sons, was used for the community.

    Burch said there's never been evidence that his community would fit the tax qualification.

    "Call it a community," she said, "But frankly it's an extended family."

    The trial lasted five weeks, but spanned four months. Federal Court Judge Diane Campbell said she would have a decision sometime in the fall.

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/polygamous-leaders-family-shouldnt-have-special-tax-status-lawyer-150217685.html

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  15. Bountiful remains a festering problem

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun July 23, 2012

    Still no action on Bountiful polygamists.

    That headline could have been run almost every year for the past 60 years. That's how long the fundamentalist Mormon leaders in the southeastern British Columbia community have been legal outliers, ignoring the law that criminalizes having more than one wife.

    The headline has been written more than a few times over the last 20 years when the fundamentalist Mormon community has frequently been in the media.

    Why is there no sense of urgency to protect the children and women in this particular fundamentalist Mormon community?
    For most of the last decade, I've been trying to figure that out. Twice, it seemed the indifference to the harms they suffer was ending.

    Once was in 2009 when the leaders of the two different factions were charged. Those charges were later dropped. A judge subsequently ruled that the charges were invalid because they'd been recommended by an improperly appointed special prosecutor who was hired only after the government's own lawyers refused to go ahead with the case.

    Then there was the decision of B.C.'s attorney-general to test the constitutionality of the law by referring it to B.C. Supreme Court.

    Finally, in 2010, it seemed the provincial government was getting serious after years of doing nothing about the allegations of sexual and physical abuse within the closed community and ignoring the RCMP's charge recommendations.

    As the constitutional reference case was winding down in February 2011, B.C. government lawyers submitted startling evidence.

    It described how men from Bountiful illegally smuggled their under-aged daughters into the United States to be given in religious ceremonies to much older men as so-called "celestial" or plural wives.

    That evidence had already been used in Texas to convict a number of men, who were members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    Yet here, other government lawyers in the criminal justice branch didn't think it was enough to merit charges of human smuggling, procuring or sexual exploitation.

    So, still no action. In November 2011, Chief Justice Robert Bauman of B.C.'s Supreme Court concluded that Canada's criminal sanction against the practice of having multiple wives was valid.

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  16. continued from previous comment:

    After three months of hearing evidence, Bauman determined that polygamy's harms justify infringing the Charter of Rights guarantees of religious freedom and the rights to liberty and free association.

    The harms Bauman described echoed everything that had been reported in The Sun and other media. Child brides. Teen mothers. Forced labour. Truncated education. Poverty. Neglect. Poor physical and mental health.

    Nearly two months later in January, Attorney-General Shirley Bond approved the appointment of special prosecutor Peter Wilson. His mandate for reviewing charges didn't include the charge of polygamy.

    Nearly two months after his appointment, Wilson's mandate was expanded to include polygamy after it was decided that Bauman's ruling would not be appealed.

    Then, nothing. A spokesman for Bond says there's nothing to report. I was told to talk to the special prosecutor if I wanted an update.

    I called Wilson's office and was told by an assistant that Wilson doesn't speak to the media. Only after I insisted did she reluctantly agree to take down my name, phone number and a request for information about where the Bountiful investigation stands.

    I have no idea whether he got my message.

    So, I'm back to wondering: Why the lack of urgency?

    Polygamy is the root cause of the harms. But when it comes to crime, it's the least significant when you consider the evidence provided to Bauman by the government's own lawyers about crimes such as sexual exploitation, illegal transporting of children across international borders and even forced labour and neglect.

    The federal government's record has been better.

    It has long enforced the policy of excluding polygamists who apply to immigrate.

    That, however, has never captured fundamentalist Mormons who don't need visas and have, with impunity, been cross-fertilizing the illegal com-munities in Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Texas with child brides and young men traded back and forth.

    Contrary to the policy, however, immigration officials have on several occasions granted exemptions on humanitarian grounds to stop the deportation of child brides in Bountiful and their children.

    Revenue Canada, on the other hand, has spent years investigating the financial doings in the community in an attempt to hold Bountiful's former bishop, Winston Blackmore, and his followers to financial account.

    Earlier this year, Blackmore appealed the government's nearly $2-million reassessment of his taxes. A decision in that case has yet to be released.

    Yet there's still no action to protect children.

    Why?

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Bountiful+remains+festering+problem/6974139/story.html

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  17. School in B.C. polygamous community closes, students now home-schooled

    By James Keller, The Canadian Press Calgary Herald November 4, 2012

    VANCOUVER - A school in Bountiful, B.C., with links to jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has abruptly closed its doors, with most of its students now relying on home-schooling in a community that has long been accused of using classrooms to indoctrinate children rather than educate them.

    Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School shut down without explanation in September, the province's Education Ministry confirms, and nearly all of its former students are being home-schooled. The school, which received provincial funding for some grade levels, had an enrolment of 265 students last year.

    Bountiful is a small commune of about 1,000 people in southwestern B.C., not far from the U.S. border. Residents follow a fundamentalist form of Mormonism, which, unlike the mainstream Mormon church, condones polygamy as a tenant of the faith.

    Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School was one of two schools in the community, which itself is split into two divided factions.

    The school was controlled by the faction that remains connected to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, and its jailed leader Warren Jeffs.

    The FLDS side of the community is considered more extreme and isolated than the faction led by Winston Blackmore, who split with the church a decade ago.

    Blackmore's school, Mormon Hills School, remains open with an enrolment this year of 178 students, according to the Education Ministry. Unlike Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School, Mormon Hills receives the highest level of government funding available to an independent school and is certified to grant high school diplomas.

    Education in the community came under scrutiny during a high-profile trial in late 2010 and early 2011 that examined Canada's polygamy law. The trial heard evidence of declining enrolment at both schools, particularly at higher grade levels. Statistics presented in court indicated few students finished Grade 12 and even fewer received high school diplomas.

    The trial also heard testimony from former Bountiful residents, who recalled being taught religion for several hours each day at the FLDS-run school, where boys were told to treat girls as "dangerous snakes."

    When reached by phone, the school's former principal, Guy Oler, declined to comment on the closure or how it might affect children in his community.

    The Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School Society, which ran the school, informed the provincial government in September that it wouldn't be open this year, said Education Ministry spokesman Scott Sutherland.

    He said the society didn't provide an explanation, nor was it required to do so. The ministry and the local school district immediately began meeting with Bountiful school administrators and parents to ensure they knew they were required to register the children elsewhere.

    "It came as a bit of a surprise to the ministry," Sutherland said in an interview.

    Sutherland said most of the students are now enrolled in a local home-schooling program known as Homelinks, which connects parents and children with certified teachers who work with families to craft an educational program for each student. Professional teachers evaluate students' work, but most of the instruction still occurs at home.

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  18. continued from previous comment...

    Several dozen children are technically registered at local schools, but nearly all of them are home-schooled. In those cases, it is entirely up to parents to teach and grade their children. They have access to resources, such as curriculum documents and computers, from the school, but are not required to use them.

    Nine former Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School students are enrolled in a separate government-run online learning program, Sutherland said.

    In all cases, students can obtain a high school diploma — known as a Dogwood diploma — if they take and pass provincial exams, but that is not required.

    When asked whether the ministry is concerned about the quality of education the Bountiful students will receive at home, Sutherland didn't directly address the issue.

    "Every complaint that has ever arisen regarding the schools (in Bountiful) has been followed up on," he said.

    "The ministry is satisfied that these kids will continue to receive an education and they are registered in education programs."

    The local school district's superintendent, Jeff Jones, said his staff are still working with parents as they transition into the district's various home-schooling options. There have been several community meetings, including one that Jones attended personally.

    "Right now, we're experiencing opportunities to develop relationships, and I think that's worked very well," Jones said in an interview.

    "The families, they seem to be very committed to working with our professionals. I would say, overall, I'm very pleased with the way the community is working with us."

    The Homelinks program includes weekly activities designed to bring its home-schooled students together as a community. Jones said initially the Bountiful students will participate in their own activities, separate from other Homelinks students, but he hopes they will eventually be integrated.

    Jones also preferred to steer clear of the controversy that hangs over Bountiful.

    "In education, we have to come to learn the context of any community we're working with. In our school district, and we have a variety of different communities," he said.

    "We welcome all students. Our mandate is to educate the students who come to us to be educated."

    Bountiful has been the subject of numerous police investigation since the early 1990s amid allegations of polygamy, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

    In 2009, community leaders Winston Blackmore and James Oler were each charged with one count of practising polygamy. Those charges were later thrown out after a judge ruled the B.C. government violated the men's rights.

    The collapse of that prosecution prompted the government to launch a constitutional reference case, which ended last year with a judge upholding the anti-polygamy law as constitutional.

    The RCMP currently have yet another investigation into Bountiful. A special prosecutor has been appointed to review any evidence the RCMP collects and consider charges that could include human trafficking, child exploitation and polygamy.

    http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/national/School+polygamous+community+closes+students+homeschooled/7495610/story.html

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  19. Bountifuls dysfunction symbolized by school's closure

    With no classes to attend, children likely to be further indoctrinated into fundamentalist group led by imprisoned pedophile Warren Jeffs

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun November 6, 2012

    It's a symptom of how disconnected the B.C. government is from the reality of the intensely secretive community of Bountiful that an Education Ministry spokesman described the closure of Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School as "abrupt" and "a surprise."

    In early September, after hearing reports it was closed and computers from the government-funded, independent school given away, I called the ministry to ask about the closure.

    The same ministry spokesman assured me that the school would open in mid-September as it always does.

    Spokesman Scott Sutherland, however, did say that after a spring inspection at the school, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders had decided to no longer take the $1.1 million the school is eligible for as a fully accredited independent school.

    For taxpayers, it may seem a bargain that they no longer pay for a school that has failed to produce more than a handful of high school graduates in its 27-year history.

    It may even seem a bonus that there's an extra $1 million to spend on schools where children aren't constantly told that obedience is paramount, that girls are "dangerous snakes" (a reference to the biblical Eve) and that girls' highest, best and virtually only use is to become mothers and wives.

    But the school's closure is only a bargain in the narrowest of economic terms.

    As long as the school received funding, it was subject to oversight that included routine inspections and external evaluations.

    Over the years, educational insufficiencies have been identified, among them a Grade 11 science test that asked such ridiculous questions as: How many goldfish are in the aquarium? And: Give suggestions for next year's school motto.

    Others included gender bias. Only a few years ago, boys' required work-experience program offered diverse activities from dairy work to mechanics, while girls' choices were limited to helping with children, cooking and sewing.

    The majority of the 265 students from last year (and others who should have started kindergarten) will now be home-schooled by parents who themselves have little more than basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

    Even the tenuous control from the Education Ministry is gone, since home-schooling parents are not required to use the provincial curriculum or any other resources that are available to them.

    The school's closure virtually condemns these children to an education that will likely consist of little beyond the bizarre, racist and sexist doctrines and end-of-world revelations emanating from the FLDS prophet and convicted pedophile Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life term in a Texas jail.

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  20. continued from previous comment...

    Over the past year, Jeffs's edicts have included banning even married couples from having sexual relations, outlawing all but the most essential physical contact between parents and children, forbidding play and banishing toys, games and sports.

    With no school to attend, children are left with little else to do but work or be further indoctrinated through endless replaying of Jeffs's taped sermons.

    They are even more vulnerable than before to manipulation by the church's extremist leaders. Additionally, with even the fleeting hope of a basic education eroded, there are now close to 300 children whose futures are further hobbled should they choose to leave or if they're forced to leave as an increasing number of men and boys have been since January.

    Among the banished are six fathers whose 40 children and seven wives have been "reassigned" to men deemed more obedient to Jeffs's diktats. Those six fathers will be back in Provincial Court in Creston on Wednesday fighting to gain access to their children.

    Ripping families apart. Reassigning women and children as if they have no more worth than furniture. Denying children their basic right to a safe and secure home, education and choices about everything from what they want to be to who they want to marry.

    These are all part of the longstanding dysfunction that has set apart this entire community since its founding in 1946. It afflicts both the 500 or so followers of Jeffs and the 500 or so others who stuck with former FLDS bishop Winston Blackmore, who himself has impregnated nine under-age girls.

    Despite frequent complaints over the years about the crimes committed within Bountiful, from polygamy to sexual exploitation to human trafficking and misdemeanours such as poor education inflicted on the religious loyalists, the community has flourished.

    Little more than a year ago, following a lengthy hearing into the constitutionality of Canada's anti-polygamy law, the chief justice of B.C.'s Supreme Court determined polygamy is at the root of the evil in Bountiful. He determined that its inherent harms override all of the other guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Yet, the government has done nothing about polygamy. And it remains as deaf and dumb to all of its evils as it has been for nearly 70 years.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Bountiful+dysfunction+symbolized+school+closure/7503806/story.html

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  21. REVIEW: A Cruel Arithmetic

    New memoir looks back on BC's historic polygamy case

    by Jeremy Hainsworth / Extra! Vancouver November 30, 2012

    Dozens of lawyers introduced themselves to BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman at the start of the polygamy reference case on Nov 22, 2010, but only BC government lawyer Craig Jones remained standing.

    Jones would spend the next few hours outlining polygamy's "cruel arithmetic" — why the government believed the law criminalizing the practice of multiple spouses was justifiable and constitutional.

    The case grew from the controversy surrounding the southeastern BC polygamous community of Bountiful, a hamlet divided between two factions of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

    The community of about 1,000 residents had been investigated repeatedly during the past two decades but avoided prosecution until its leaders were charged with polygamy in January 2009.

    Winston Blackmore was accused of having at least 19 wives, and Jim Oler at least three.

    FLDS members practice polygamy in arranged marriages, a tradition tied to the early theology of the Mormon Church. The main branch of the church renounced polygamy in 1890, but several fundamentalist groups seceded in order to continue the practice.

    Blackmore has long claimed religious persecution and protested what he sees as the denial of his constitutional right to religious freedom.

    The criminal charges against him and Oler never proceeded due to controversy surrounding the number of special prosecutors needed to arrive at their approval. A judge agreed that the government had gone “prosecutor shopping” and threw the charges out. Undeterred, the government tried a new tack, requesting a constitutional reference, essentially putting the polygamy law itself on trial.

    In the testimony that followed, in a trial setting unprecedented in Canadian history, Bauman heard about polygamy, polyamory, polyandry, polygyny and gay marriage, among a host of other issues.

    Bauman's ruling a year later said Canada's Section 293 criminal ban against polygamy should be upheld because it only minimally impairs religious rights while potentially protecting women and children from abuse.

    However, he defended polyamorous relationships, calling them consensual and not harmful, and said polyamorists should be allowed to have multiple relationships as long as they don't get married.

    Now, Jones has written A Cruel Arithmetic: Inside the Case Against Polygamy, a memoir of the case that produced one of the world's most thorough investigations of polygamy.

    "This book is about polygamy and a fundamental clash of rights; the right of a society to declare it to be criminal behaviour versus the rights of individuals to be free to arrange their most intimate personal affairs according to their conscience," Jones writes.

    The cruel arithmetic (a phrase drawn from Vancouver Sun writer Daphne Bramham), according to Jones, is the excess of unmarried men and the overall gender imbalance that results as those unmarried men are expelled while more women are imported for marriage.

    Bountiful, he writes, “was a small but important window on polygamy in practice, and it provided a demographic backdrop against which the individual evidence would emerge — of child brides, lost boys and human trafficking."

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  22. In the foreword, journalist Andrew Coyne asks if polygamy is not just another step forward.

    “Not so long ago, same-sex marriage had seemed strange, even threatening; now it was the law. Was not multiple marriage simply another step along the road to greater tolerance?"

    Jones answers him in the afterword 352 pages later. "We can and should say that, going forward, all polygamous marriages that come to the attention of authorities will be subject to prosecution," Jones writes.

    "With respect to subsisting or historical polygamous marriage, prosecution would only occur if it appeared that there were elements of exploitation, abuse, or a gross imbalance of power," he continues. "This would permit the majority of existing polygamous marriages, and the families they supported, to continue, and run their course without government interference.

    "I see little to be gained in tearing apart existing and functioning households,” he adds, “most of which include children of the wives involved, except where they are founded on exploitation or abuse."

    On the topic of same-sex marriage, Jones concedes, "The modern embrace of gays and lesbians appears to have had nothing but positive effects."

    He also quotes reference witness John Witte Jr, director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Georgia, as saying children and partners in same-sex marriages are flourishing, as are the communities that embrace them.”

    "We've come to the conclusion in a number of different churches and in a number of different states and in a number of different cultural communities, that same-sex parties need to be treated the same way as other-sex parties when it comes to union.”

    Jones also praises the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association's (CPAA) lawyer John Ince, calling him "adept" at presenting his clients' viewpoint in the reference case.

    Jones summarizes the CPAA position as supporting "the idea that there could be some law to prohibit polygamy, but that it could not include the secular, egalitarian multipartner relationships that their membership idealized."

    Ince argued before Bauman that the ban on the formalization of polyamorous relationships violated freedom of expression in as much as "the public celebration of a polyamorous relationship affirms the value and legitimacy of the union. It is also an expression of love and commitment."

    Bauman disagreed. But he still differentiated between polygamy and polyamory in his ruling.

    "For fundamentalist Mormons, polygamy is a fundamental spiritual principle through which they fulfill God’s plan,” Bauman said. "For polyamorists, the ability to live in a family with the people they love is essential."

    Bauman said the consensual and sex-positive nature of relationships are important tenets of polyamory. He also found that many polyamorists live mainstream lives fully integrated with their communities.

    Ince welcomed Bauman's decision as a relief to polyamorists whose lives and relationships were validated and found not to be illegal.

    In the end, Bauman would hear and consider what he called "the most comprehensive judicial record on the subject ever produced," Jones says.

    Jones' book, when read in tandem with Bramham's history of the FLDS in Canada, The Secret Lives of Saints, and Bauman's comprehensive ruling, provides an excellent overview of the context and law on polygamy in Canada.

    A Cruel Arithmetic:
    Inside the Case Against Polygamy
    Craig Jones
    Irwin Law Inc
    $39.95

    http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/REVIEW_A_Cruel_Arithmetic-12880.aspx

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  23. Bountiful leader’s ‘indifference’ to tax laws to cost him $150,000

    by WENDY STUECK, Vancouver — The Globe and Mail August 28, 2013

    A federal tax court judge has rejected appeals of tax assessments by Winston Blackmore, a leader in the polygamous enclave of Bountiful, B.C., concluding the community does not meet the requirements of a congregation set out in the Income Tax Act.

    In her August 21 decision, Justice Diane Campbell found Mr. Blackmore and Bountiful – home to members of a polygamous sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) – do not fit provisions in the act that were designed to accommodate communal organizations such as Hutterite colonies.

    Judge Campbell dismissed tax appeals for six taxation years between 2000 and 2006 – 2005 was not included – that found Mr. Blackmore had understated his income by $1.8-million.

    The judge also levied “gross negligence” penalties of nearly $150,000 in relation to four of the taxation years, citing “astronomical” differences between reported and actual income.

    “The Appellant ought to have known that ignoring the astronomical magnitude of the differences between the reported income/benefits and the amount of benefits assessed, ranging from 884 per cent to 1,326 per cent, over a number of years, would attract some type of tax consequences,” Judge Campbell wrote in her decision.

    “This is the type of ‘cavalier attitude’ discussed in DeCosta. It is behaviour reflective of an indifference as to whether there is or is not compliance with the law. The Appellant headed a community and a company that had business activities in a number of locations in British Columbia, Alberta and the United States. However, even if he had no such business experience and background, I would still conclude that, due to the staggering amounts of unreported income and benefits, he was grossly negligent in ignoring these amounts over a number of years. Therefore, I must conclude that the Appellant’s actions exceed simple carelessness and that he willfully misrepresented the true state of the Company’s activities so that gross negligence penalties are justified.”

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  24. The decision follows hearings that were held between January and May of last year and that cast a spotlight on the business and personal affairs of the residents of Bountiful, which has been a thorny problem for B.C. lawmakers and police for decades.

    In a landmark 2011 ruling, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman found that Canada's criminal prohibition against polygamy should be upheld because the practice results in harm to women, children and society.

    During last year’s hearing, Mr. Blackmore was questioned about his wives, their living arrangements and his business interests.

    Under the tax act, a congregation must meet four requirements, including that members live and work together and not own property individually.

    The judge found Bountiful did not meet those requirements on several counts, including members who worked outside the community and owned cars and used credit cards.

    Over the past few decades, B.C. has made several attempts to tackle allegedly illegal activity in Bountiful, with limited success. Polygamy charges against two leaders, including Mr. Blackmore, were quashed on technical grounds in 2009.

    In the most recent initiative, B.C. appointed a special prosecutor for Bountiful last year. In July, the province announced that the special prosecutor, Peter Wilson, had received and was reviewing an RCMP investigation into Bountiful.

    As part of any charge assessment, Mr. Wilson is considering – if the evidence supports it – “the possible prosecution of sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors by individuals associated with the community of Bountiful, from the early 1980s to the present,” the province said in July.

    The community is located in southeastern B.C.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bountiful-leaders-indifference-to-tax-laws-to-cost-him-150000/article13997035/

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  25. When a polygamist cheats

    The Canada Revenue Agency succeeds where the police and province failed against Winston Blackmore

    by Ken MacQueen, Macleans September 5, 2013

    These are trying times for Winston Blackmore, the once all-powerful bishop of Bountiful, B.C., and for his 120-plus children, his 21—no, make that 22—“celestial” wives (a fellow can be forgiven for losing count) and the remaining 400 or so members of his diminished flock. In a court ruling released last week, the Canada Revenue Agency succeeded in doing what the combined forces of the RCMP, special prosecutors and successive attorneys general of British Columbia have so far failed to do over many decades—it held Blackmore to account.

    For years the courts and the Charter of Rights and Freedom have been his shield and sword, protecting him and others in the sect from criminal convictions for their practice of polygamy and from disturbing allegations of forced underage marriage of girls and sexual exploitation of minors. Prosecutors have said polygamy charges might not survive a freedom-of-religion challenge, and the girls and women of Bountiful have been loath to co-operate with police. But successive court cases have exacted a cost, both financial and in the unwelcome attention focused on the lives and Byzantine business dealings of Blackmore and his secretive flock.

    In a Tax Court of Canada ruling, Justice Diane Campbell rejected Blackmore’s claims that the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful, or at least the portion recognizing his leadership, constitutes a communal religious organization eligible for tax exemption. The ruling rejects the 57-year-old Blackmore’s appeals for six taxation years beginning in 2000, leaving him with a bill for taxes owed on $1.8 million in undeclared income, a penalty of almost $150,000 for hiding an “astronomical” amount of income and a still undetermined sum of court costs.

    This wasn’t your typical tax case. “These appeals introduced unique and novel legal and factual issues,” Campbell wrote with judicial understatement. Campbell acquainted herself with the intricacies of Mormonism, Episcopal polity and such terms as priesthood work, she wrote. She ultimately concluded that members of Bountiful, the sect’s name for Lister and other scattered communities, in southeastern B.C., “are not members of any religious organization but are a group of independent Mormon fundamentalists.”

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  26. Blackmore, who’s used to having his orders followed, was visibly uncomfortable with the probing questions of the judge and lead federal lawyer—both assertive women. He reluctantly gave details of his family life: that he had 21 wives, revised to 22 when he admitted forgetting one, and that he fathered 47 children during the taxation years in question. He skirted his total number of children, said to exceed 120. “It would be hard to make an accurate list,” he said. “It would take some time to do that.” He described how his family is clustered in several homes, with some in other communities. “We don’t have any facilities big enough for everyone in the community to live under the same roof.” Meals are prepared in a commercial-sized kitchen. Baking, butchering, food and bulk milk storage are handled with industrial equipment and facilities. Meals are taken in a dining room seating 150-200 people. He presides over a Sunday religious service lasting 90 minutes. “I try not to go beyond that,” he said. He’s the arbiter of religious, marital and business affairs, and painted himself as a “liberal” and benevolent leader.

    He described the split in 2002 that cut Bountiful into rival camps, with half of the 1,000-plus members following James Oler, who Blackmore said had strayed from the “foundation principles” of Mormonism. “We’re trying to figure out where we all are with the major upheaval in our faith,” he said.

    His business affairs are equally complicated, from trucking to farming to logging and fence-post making, much of it run under J.R. Blackmore & Sons, a company he directed. The businesses are so scattered through Alberta, Idaho and several small B.C. centres that Blackmore and one of his brothers shared command of a four-passenger Cessna to track their operations. Children and young males worked for low wages, with much of their pay turned over to Blackmore, prompting a federal lawyer to say: “The role of a good shepherd is to shear the sheep, not skin it.”

    Those high-flying days seem to be over. Blackmore cried poor in 2010 in a failed attempt to get government funding to participate in a B.C. Supreme Court reference on Canada’s polygamy law. He listed in an affidavit liabilities of $5.65 million and assets of less than $900,000. (The reference upheld the ban on polygamy, though it said the ban infringes on some sections of the Charter.)

    Now Bountiful waits for the other shoe to drop. The province appointed special prosecutor Peter Wilson almost 20 months ago to look at filing criminal charges for alleged sexual offences against minors. If charges are filed, Blackmore and Bountiful will face a test of faith and another costly legal battle. First, though, the cash-strapped Blackmore must serve two masters: the Canada Revenue Agency and the Lord. As Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith, wrote of a revelation from God: “Behold, it is my will that you shall pay all your debts.”

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/09/05/when-a-polygamist-cheats/

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  27. Bountiful leader Winston Blackmore appeals tax court ruling, claims his charter rights violated

    by THE CANADIAN PRESS OCTOBER 2, 2013

    VANCOUVER — British Columbia polygamous community leader Winston Blackmore is appealing a decision by a Federal Tax Court that he underreported his income by $1.8 million.

    Documents filed in the Federal Court of Appeal say the trial judge didn't properly interpret a section of the Income Tax Act that relates to filing taxes as a congregation.

    In the original case, Blackmore argued his polygamous group should be able to use the same tax law that Hutterites use, spreading earnings among members for tax purposes.

    But Judge Diane Campbell said in her ruling last August that Blackmore's community in Bountiful, B.C., didn't meet any of the criteria for such a tax break.

    "The appellant ought to have known that ignoring the astronomical magnitude of the differences between the reported income/benefits and the amount of benefits assessed ... would attract some type of tax consequences," Campbell said in her ruling.

    Blackmore claimed income from of $172,000 for the years 2000 to 2004 and 2006. He said his yearly income fluctuated between $20,000 and $40,000.

    But Canada Revenue Agency added hundreds of thousands of dollars a year of income and shareholder benefits from Blackmore's company J.R. Blackmore & Sons Ltd.

    The brief notice of appeal filed said the judge didn't properly apply a section of the Income Tax Act as "it accords with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the values to which it gives expression."

    In her earlier ruling, Campbell said Bountiful was too dispersed and fragmented to qualify as one of the specific types of communities that Parliament envisioned, such as Hutterite communities.

    Blackmore, who told the court he had 21 wives and 47 children, had his income reassessed and he was also hit with a penalty of nearly $150,000 in the August ruling.

    Blackmore's lawyer David Davies wouldn't comment on the appeal and Blackmore didn't return a request for an interview.

    http://www.theprovince.com/life/Bountiful+leader+Winston+Blackmore+appeals+court+ruling+claims/8984246/story.html

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  28. Canada’s notorious polygamist leader admits under oath to marrying child brides

    Isn’t it finally time prosecutors did something about it?

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun columnist March 14, 2014

    Ten of fundamentalist Mormon leader Winston Blackmore’s 22 wives were underage when he married them; three were only 15.

    The former Canadian bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints admitted to it under oath, according to the transcript of his Feb. 28 deposition in Salt Lake City for a civil case involving church property.

    Blackmore readily admitted to having married one 15-year-old, whom he repeatedly described as being “just about 16.” He was 42 at the time.

    But Blackmore insisted:

    “I never touched anybody before they were 16 . . . .

    “I never had any conjugal relationship. I mean I held a hand, but I would not touch anybody before they were (16)”

    When asked whether any of his other 22 wives had been 18 or younger, Blackmore snapped: “Are you the media? I mean do I have to display my personal family life here? I mean they were in the 1990 era, earlier than 1990. It would be two or three of them.”

    Far from being only two or three, lawyer Alan Mortensen read off the names of nine other women who Blackmore admitted were 18 or younger when he married them in religious ceremonies in the United States and Canada. Blackmore said all but two of the marriages involving child brides were performed by then-FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs. (Jeffs was succeeded by his son, Warren, who is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting two of his 12-year-old “brides.”)

    Blackmore was clearly taken off-guard by the questioning.

    He had appeared without a lawyer and had gone voluntarily as a witness in a civil case involving church property held in the United Effort Plan trust.

    Blackmore was the bishop responsible for the congregations in Bountiful, B.C. as well as the Alberta communities of Rosemary and Cardston — as well as being a trustee for the United Effort Plan — from the mid-1980s until Warren Jeffs kicked him out of the FLDS in 2002.

    Since then, Blackmore has continued as the spiritual leader to about 500 people in those communities.

    Because the deposition was voluntary and done under oath, Blackmore’s statements are not only public, they could be used by criminal prosecutors in both Utah and British Columbia.

    Blackmore was asked by Mortensen whether he had petitioned Utah’s juvenile court for permission to marry any of the girls who were under the age of 18.

    “No,” Blackmore replied.

    “And you understand, don’t you, under the laws of Utah that if you had gone to a clerk to obtain a marriage licence, you would have been denied one?” Mortensen asked, referring to that state’s anti-polygamy law.

    “There was never any intention to go and I did not understand that, no,” replied Blackmore.

    “You were legally married to Jane Blackmore at the time?”

    “Yeah.”

    After confirming that Blackmore never obtained marriage licences, never presented the underage girls to court or government officials for permission to marry, never obtained the written consent of their parents and never verified the girls’ ages before marrying them, Mortensen suggested to Blackmore the marriages were “without the sanction or protection” of either the state of Utah or the province of British Columbia where the consent of a Supreme Court judge is required for the marriage of a child under the age of 16 and consent of both parents is required for those under 19.

    “The province of British Columbia, I had no concern about them,” Blackmore replied. “And I know nothing about your rules.”

    In addition to admitting to having married underage girls, Blackmore acknowledged that as the FLDS bishop he also performed plural marriages involving girls under the age of 19.

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  29. But after Warren Jeffs forced him out of the FLDS in 2002, Blackmore said he has refused to perform any plural marriages involving girls under 18.

    “I encourage someone if they want to be someone’s plural wife ­— and they do, there’s lots of people that do — they get (to be) 18, they get their parents and then they come talk ... They come and talk to me if they want to have me approve it,” Blackmore said.

    Blackmore’s lack of concern about British Columbia is well-founded.

    In 1992, the B.C. attorney general refused to lay charges of polygamy or sexual exploitation against Blackmore and another church elder, Dalmon Oler, because of concerns that Canada’s anti-polygamy law might be found to be unconstitutional.

    It wasn’t until January 2009 that Blackmore and then-FLDS bishop James Oler (Dalmon’s son) were each charged with one count of polygamy. Those charges were subsequently dropped after Blackmore’s lawyer successfully argued that the special prosecutor who recommended the charges had been improperly hired.

    In 2010, the provincial government launched a constitutional reference case in the B.C. Supreme Court to determine whether the federal law was valid. The law was upheld in a decision released in November 2011.

    Another special prosecutor, Peter Wilson, was hired in January 2012. Wilson is still considering whether any charges ought to be laid against Blackmore and others in Bountiful, having only recently received more files from the RCMP, whose investigation continues.

    It’s not clear whether Wilson is aware of Blackmore’s deposition. Wilson is away from his office until March 24 and could not be reached.

    However, officials at both the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Attorney General’s Ministry have seen the transcript.

    It’s likely that if Blackmore had a lawyer with him, the lawyer would have advised him not to answer the questions on the grounds that it might incriminate him.

    It’s a protection that his lawyers sought when he was in Federal Tax Court in 2012, where he unsuccessfully tried to appeal Revenue Canada’s decision that he had defrauded the government of $1.8 million in taxes.

    Yet, during the Utah deposition, Blackmore answered all the questions. Perhaps he was emboldened by a December decision in the case involving Kody Brown and his wives — who star in the reality show Sister Wives — which struck down sections of Utah’s polygamy law.

    Perhaps Blackmore still harbours the desire to become the FLDS prophet.

    But for whatever reason, Blackmore’s testimony comes practically gift-wrapped and handed to prosecutors in British Columbia and Utah. Finally, maybe they will need to take action against this polygamist.

    Polygamist chronology in British Columbia

    1946 — Winston Blackmore’s uncle, Harold Blackmore, buys property outside Creston and establishes the community that will come to be called Bountiful.

    1961 — Winston Blackmore’s father, Ray, takes control of Bountiful away from Harold.

    1984 — After Ray Blackmore’s death, Winston Blackmore becomes bishop for Canada and in 1986 is appointed as a trustee to the United Effort Plan trust.

    October, 1991 — RCMP concludes a 13-month investigation and recommend charges be laid against Winston Blackmore and Dalmon Oler.

    Junem 1992 — The B.C. Attorney General’s ministry rejects the RCMP’s charge recommendation, citing undisclosed legal opinions that suggest the polygamy section of the Canada’s Criminal Code is unconstitutional.

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  30. 2002 — Winston Blackmore is excommunicated by Warren Jeffs, who succeeded his father, Rulon, as the prophet of the FLDS. James Oler (Dalmon’s son) is appointed bishop.

    June, 2004 — After complaints of abuse in Bountiful, Attorney General Geoff Plant asks RCMP to investigate.

    April, 2005 — At a polygamy summit he’d organized in Creston, Winston Blackmore admits he had married “several underage girls” and says one of his sons had married a 14-year-old.

    Aug. 25, 2006 — Three months after being placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs is arrested outside Las Vegas on a routine traffic stop.

    December, 2006 — Winston Blackmore goes on CNN and tells Larry King he had “married” several girls who were 16 and one who was 15.

    Aug. 1, 2007 — Special prosecutor Richard Peck recommends that rather than laying charges against Blackmore and possibly others, the province should determine the constitutionality of the law. Attorney General Wally Oppal disagrees and a month later asks another special prosecutor, Leonard Doust, to review the RCMP evidence and Peck’s decision.

    Sept. 25, 2007 — FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs is convicted on two counts as an accomplice to rape of Elissa Wall, who was 14 when Jeffs forced her to marry her 19-year-old first cousin.

    April, 2008 — Doust agrees with Peck and recommends a constitutional reference to the court. Oppal disagrees and two months later appoints another special prosecutor who does recommend charges.

    Jan. 7, 2009 — Winston Blackmore and James Oler are arrested, taken to Cranbrook where they are charged and released with conditions after pleading not guilty to one count each of polygamy.

    September, 2009 — B.C. Supreme Court rules Attorney General Wally Oppal erred in appointing another special prosecutor. Charges against Blackmore and Oler are dropped. British Columbia launches a constitutional reference case to determine the validity of the polygamy law.

    November 2011 — Nearly a year after the hearings began in the constitutional reference case, Chief Justice Robert Bauman upholds the criminal sanction against polygamy.

    Jan. 17, 2012 — Peter Wilson is appointed as special prosecutor and asked to review the new evidence that emerged a year earlier during the constitutional reference case regarding Bountiful men who had transported 31 underage girls across the Canada-U.S. border to become child brides.

    Fall, 2013 — Federal Taxation Court upholds Revenue Canada’s assessment that Blackmore under-estimated his income by $1.8 million. Blackmore files an appeal.

    Dec. 16, 2013 — Utah judge strikes down a section of the polygamy law in a case involving Kody Brown and his family who star in the reality show, Sister Wives. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was only appointed in November, says he may appeal.

    Jan. 16, 2014 — The Criminal Justice Branch of the Attorney General’s ministry issues a press release a day shy of the second anniversary of Peter Wilson’s appointment as “independent special prosecutor” and says his mandate now includes consideration of “potential offences contrary to the polygamy provisions of the Criminal Code.”

    Feb. 28, 2014 — Winston Blackmore goes voluntarily as a witness for the UEP trust’s lawyers in a civil case involving Elissa Wall and without a lawyer. During the deposition, he admits to having married 10 women who were under the age of 19; three of whom were 15 and one who was 16.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Daphne+Bramham+Canada+notorious+polygamist+leader+admits+under+oath+marrying+child/9619976/story.html

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  31. Excerpts from Polygamist Winston Blackmore's deposition

    Vancouver Sun MARCH 14, 2014

    On Feb. 28, Canada's most notorious polygamist Winston Blackmore voluntarily answered questions under oath in a civil case in Utah involving the sale of land owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints through its United Effort Plan.

    Blackmore, an FLDS bishop and a UEP trustee from the mid-1980s until 2002 — when he was ex-communicated by Warren Jeffs — testified voluntarily and without a lawyer.

    And, while this case is about property, during cross-examination lawyer Alan Mortensen asked about 10 of Blackmore's 22 wives, who were under 18 when they married. Three of them were 15 and one was 16.

    These are excerpts from the deposition.

    Mortensen: Have you ever performed any marriages of girls that are under the age of 16?
    Blackmore: No I haven't.
    Q: Have you ever married someone who is under the age of 16?
    A: Yes, I have.
    Q: When was that?
    A: Oh, heck, I can't recall . . . They had their parents' consent.
    . . .
    Q: And how old was she?
    A: She was 15, just about 16.
    Q: Are you still married to her?
    A: Yes I am.
    Q: So, she was 15 years old?
    A: Just about 16.
    Q: She was 15 when you married her?
    A: Yeah.
    Q: What year did you marry her?
    A: Oh, brother, you are going to get me really in trouble because I can't remember. I'd have to phone her.
    . . .
    Q: And where were you married?
    A: Nevada, I think. Oh, no, in Canada. I believe it was in Canada. . . No, it was in - it was in Utah.
    Q: Where in Utah?
    A: Probably right here in Salt Lake City.
    Q: Do you remember?
    A: I could sure find that out.
    . . .
    Q: Your father . . . married a 16-year-old, correct?
    A: Yeah.
    Q: And you married a 15-year-old?
    A: Well, I never touched anybody before they were 16.
    Q: When you say 'touched' is that having conjugal . . .
    A: In any way.
    Q: Conjugal relations?
    A: I never had any conjugal relationship. I mean I held a hand, but I would not touch anybody before they were . . .
    Q: Okay. So you married someone that was 15?
    A: Yeah, 15 and eight, nine 10 months, somewhere in there.
    . . .

    continued below

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  32. Q: As the bishop of the Fundamentalist movement in Bountiful, you have prohibited anyone from under the age of 18 being married, correct?
    A: A plural marriage.
    Q: Plural marriage?
    A: Yes . . . I encourage someone if they want to be someone's plural wife — and they do, there's lots of people that do — they get [to be] 18, they get their parents and then they come talk.
    Q: And they come talk to you as the bishop?
    A: They come and talk to me if they want to have me approve it.
    Q: And for you to approve, they have to be at least 18?
    A: 18
    Q: But that always hasn't been the case, correct?
    A: No, it hasn't.
    Q: That changed after Warren Jeffs?
    A: In 2002.
    Q: Prior to that, though, you as the bishop would perform plural marriages to girls that are under the age of 19?
    A: I have to think of who and where, but I would have. I would have had the occasion.
    Q: You don't deny that you did that?
    A: No, I don't deny that.
    Q: And you don't deny that before you would do that the parents didn't bring with them a signed consent form from the government of British Columbia?
    A: I don't.
    . . . .
    Q: Are there any other women that you took as plural wives that were under the age of 19?
    A: Yes.
    Q: Who are those or what is — what are — more than one?
    A: Are you the media? I mean do I have to display my personal family life her? I mean they were in the 1990 era, earlier than 1990 It would be two or three of them but. . .
    . . .
    Prompted by Mortensen, Blackmore eventually agreed that he'd had 10 underaged wives - three who were 15, two who were 16 and five who were 17.
    . . . .
    Q: Did you ever go to petition juvenile court here in Utah to marry any of these women?
    A: No.
    Q: And, you understand, don't you, under the laws of Utah, that if you had gone to a clerk to obtain a marriage licence, you would have been denied one?
    A: There was never any intention to go and I did not understand that, no.
    Q: You were legally married to Jane Blackmore at the time?
    A: Yeah.
    Q: And under the laws of Utah, you would have been denied a marriage license with these four women that were under the age of 18. . . Did you have that understanding?
    A: I never even thought of that.
    Q: You didn't research that before you married -
    A: No I didn't.
    . . .
    Q: I take it that at least with regard to you marrying someone under the age of 18 is not an anomaly?
    A: Not under the age of 18.
    . . .
    Q: But without sanction or protection from the state of Utah?
    A: No.
    Q: Or protection or sanction from the province of British Columbia.
    A: The province of British Columbia, I had no concern about them and I know nothing about your rules.
    Q: You don't believe that you are subject to the rules of Utah?
    A: Yeah, I do.
    Q: You are subject to them?
    A: Yes I am.
    . . .
    Q: I take it that you have never gone to the Canadian authorities to report any kind of concern that you have had about an underaged bride in your flock?
    A: Not in my flock.
    Q: Have you gone to Canadian authorities over other underaged brides?
    A: I wouldn't know of any of the circumstances regarding them, so I haven't.
    Q: So, that would be no?
    A: That's no.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Excerpts+from+Polygamist+Winston+Blackmore+deposition/9620077/story.html

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  33. Ousted Bountiful bishop reported on child brides to RCMP

    Still no charges in B.C. as Ken Oler tells his story for a Utah civil lawsuit

    BY DAPHNE BRAMHAM, VANCOUVER SUN COLUMNIST MARCH 18, 2014

    In 2011, former bishop Ken Oler went to the Creston RCMP detachment to report that marriages of under-aged girls were being sanctioned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    Days earlier, he had lost everything. He had been stripped of his position, his family, his home and forced out of the church by the FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who still controls his flock despite being in a Texas prison.

    Born into one of the founding families of Bountiful, B.C., Oler had never spoken out before. Oler had two wives of his own. His father, Dalmon, had been investigated for polygamy in the 1990s, but never charged. And, Oler must have known that 10 of the 26 wives that his brother-in-law Winston Blackmore had married had been under 18.

    Last month, under oath in a deposition for a Utah civil case involving church-owned property, Oler acknowledged that he’d reported under-aged brides to the RCMP. And, in the deposition, he identified Canadian girls from a list of more than 70 names.

    Two of the girls — Oler’s half-sisters — were only 15 and 16 when they were married. The third was 13 when she was taken illegally across the U.S. border in 2005 by her parents to become one of Jeffs’s 80 or more wives.

    Three years later, that third girl was found at the Yearning for Zion Ranch during the raid that eventually led to Jeffs’s conviction for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of two 12-year-olds.

    Texas child protection services notified the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development about the Canadian teen. But the ministry did nothing to retrieve her. Oler believes the girl is now living somewhere in the United States with Jeffs’s son.

    And, nearly three years after Oler reported to police and more than two years after RCMP handed its files to B.C. special prosecutor Peter Wilson, nothing has happened.

    Eight months before Oler went to the RCMP, he had been appointed bishop for the 500 or so members of FLDS’s Canadian congregations in Rosemary and Cardston, in Alberta, and Bountiful.

    He replaced his half-brother, James Oler, whom Jeffs had “sent away” because of a court action in B.C.

    Ken Oler said that his half-brother had “not been given directives to action (sic) ... the way that he was doing.”

    In November 2010, the B.C. Supreme Court began hearing a constitutional reference case to determine the validity of the Criminal Code’s anti-polygamy law. A year earlier, both James Oler and his predecessor, Winston Blackmore, had been charged with one count each of polygamy. Those charges were dropped because of a procedural error.

    Oler doesn’t know what has become of his half-brother; his family has heard nothing from him and RCMP have been notified that he is missing.

    continued below

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  34. Ken Oler said he was surprised when told that Jeffs wanted him to be bishop.

    Did he take the role voluntarily, Oler was asked in the Utah case.

    “I don’t know if I would use the word ‘voluntarily’

    “The problem that you face is if you refuse something, then the first thing they (the FLDS) do is they come after your family. It’s happened numerous times where people lose their families because they refuse a directive from Warren Jeffs.”

    Oler described Jeffs as “very draconian … very radical.”

    “He was sending these, you know, what he called revelations. … There was probably only maybe about five per cent of what he sent that was ever presented (by me) to the people in forms of, you know, maybe some innocent trainings.

    “But as far as some of his directives, like sending people away from the community, I shredded those and I never acted out on any of them. And because of my position against what he was doing, I notified him by way of letter that I was no longer willing to have anything to do with him or his teachings or his directives.”

    Oler sent the letter to the Texas prison where Jeffs is serving a life sentence.

    He said in his deposition that he’d previously told other FLDS members that “I was not on side with that (child marriages).” But he had never spoken about it outside the community because he knew the repercussion.

    “My whole process had to be thought through very carefully because today I’m gone and … I don’t have my family, my wife and … (I’ve got) four kids that are there … I knew that they wouldn’t come when I took the stand that I took.

    “So it was … it’s quite a, you know, a heart-wrenching, you know, decision that you have to make. But you have to make it for the sake of what’s right.”

    About a week after Oler had mailed his letter, Russell Johnson arrived from the United States with orders from Jeffs to banish Oler.

    Oler moved to Rocky Mountain House, Alta. with his 17-year-old daughter. A few months later, his 15-year-old daughter was also sent away by Johnson.

    In 2012, Oler’s two other teenage daughters joined him, a year after he and five other excommunicated fathers had gone to court to gain access to the 40 children they’d been forced to leave behind.

    Over the past 20 years, many other girls haven’t been as lucky as Oler’s daughters. They’ve had neither their parents nor the B.C. government step up and protect them.

    __________

    Bountiful chronology

    October 1991 — RCMP conclude a 13-month investigation and recommend charges be laid against the bishop of Bountiful, Winston Blackmore, and FLDS elder Dalmon Oler.

    June 1992 — The B.C. Attorney General’s ministry rejects the RCMP’s charge recommendation, citing undisclosed legal opinions that suggest the polygamy section of the Canada’s Criminal Code is unconstitutional.

    continued below

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  35. 2002 James Oler (Dalmon’s son) is appointed bishop after Winston Blackmore is ousted by FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs.

    June 2004 — After complaints of abuse in Bountiful, Attorney General Geoff Plant asks RCMP to investigate.

    Aug. 25, 2006 — Three months after being placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs is arrested outside Las Vegas on a routine traffic stop.

    Aug. 1, 2007 — Special Prosecutor Richard Peck recommends that rather than laying charges against Winston Blackmore and possibly others in Bountiful, the province should determine the constitutionality of the law. Attorney General Wally Oppal disagrees and a month later asks another special prosecutor, Leonard Doust, to review the RCMP evidence and Peck’s decision.

    Sept. 25, 2007 — FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs is convicted on two counts as an accomplice to rape of Elissa Wall, who was 14 when Jeffs forced her to marry her 19-year-old, first cousin.

    April 2008 – Texas law enforcement and child protection officers raid the Yearning for Zion Ranch and take 462 children and 100 women into protective custody. Among those children is a girl from Bountiful who had been 13 when her parents took her illegally across the U.S. border to marry Warren Jeffs. The raid resulted in Jeffs’s 2011 conviction and life sentence for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of two, 12-year-old girls.

    Jan. 7, 2009 — Winston Blackmore and James Oler are charged with one count each of polygamy. The charges are stayed in September because of a procedural error. British Columbia launches a constitutional reference case to determine the validity of the polygamy law.

    Early 2011 – From his Texas jail cell, Warren Jeffs banishes James Oler for not following his directives regarding the court actions. His half-brother, Ken Oler, becomes the Canadian bishop.

    November 2011 – B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman upholds the criminal sanction against polygamy.

    November 2011 – Bishop Ken Oler writes a letter to Warren Jeffs denouncing the practice of child marriages. Within a week, he is stripped of his wives, children, home and position. Oler goes to RCMP to report child marriages.

    Jan. 17, 2012 – Peter Wilson appointed special prosecutor.

    September 2012 – Six FLDS men banished from Bountiful go to court to get access to the 40 children they were forced to leave behind.

    Feb. 28, 2014 – Ken Oler gives a voluntary deposition in a Utah civil case regarding FLDS-owned property and identifies three Bountiful girls who were child brides, including his two half-sisters.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/Daphne+Bramham+Ousted+Bountiful+bishop+reported+child/9633143/story.html

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  36. Polygamist Blackmore has hidden reason for admitting to underage marriages

    Being a martyr has always been important within the breakaway Mormon sect that considers itself persecuted

    By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun columnist March 20, 2014

    When disgraced Toronto Mayor Rob Ford went on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night TV show, the host asked him: “Why are you here? What good could come of this?”

    The same question could have been asked of notorious Canadian polygamist Winston Blackmore about his voluntary deposition, given under oath in Utah, for a civil case involving property owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    What good could flow from his admission that 10 of his 26 wives were under the age of 18 when he ‘married’ them in religious ceremonies? What possible benefit is likely to come from his confirming that three of those 10 girls were only 15 years old and that one was 16?

    One might think, nothing good — at least for him. But that reckoning doesn’t account for the fact that Blackmore leads a religious congregation that feels unfairly persecuted because of its practice of both polygamy and the ‘marriages’ of underage girls.

    Blackmore’s deposition prompted the Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to meet with staff Wednesday to decide whether to launch an investigation with a view to charging Blackmore with child rape. The problem in Utah, however, is that it has a statute of limitations on sex crimes and Blackmore’s ‘weddings’ happened close to two decades ago.

    Canada has no statute of limitations on sex crimes. So, Blackmore’s sworn testimony could be used against him here — not that B.C. Attorney General Suzanne Anton is giving any hint of things to come. Through a spokeswoman and via email, Anton curtly refused to comment: “As you are aware, an independent special prosecutor has been appointed.”

    Blackmore is neither a naive narcissist as he initially appears, nor is he an altruist just trying to help an ally by giving a deposition in a civil suit. Like Ford, Blackmore is a survivor with a keen eye for playing to his audience. Although he shunned an offer to do a reality TV show, Blackmore has often defended his ‘lifestyle’ on network television in Canada and the United States.

    In 2005, Blackmore provocatively invited the attorneys general of B.C., Idaho, Utah and Arizona to his polygamy summit in Creston. Had any of them showed up, they would have heard Blackmore say that his son had married a 14-year-old and that at least one of his own ‘brides’ was 15.

    Within the fundamentalist Mormon culture, it was likely seen as standing up for his beliefs and, in that culture, martyrs have been venerated ever since the 1844 murder of Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

    continued below

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  37. And it may be martyrdom that Blackmore was courting when he admitted under oath to having had 10 teen ‘brides’ rather than refusing to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate him.

    Because any resulting prosecution — persecution in the eyes of fundamentalist Mormons — would burnish Blackmore’s credentials just as previous prophets have enhanced their own by going to jail. This even holds true in the eyes of some FLDS members for the current prophet Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in Texas for raping two girls.

    It’s Jeffs who blocked Blackmore’s path to becoming the prophet. He had been on track to replace Jeffs’s father, Rulon, as the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the largest polygamous group in North America.

    When Rulon was prophet, he controlled the present and future lives of his followers as well as millions of dollars’ worth of property and a large network of businesses (including construction and even manufacturing parts for the U.S. space shuttle) through the church’s United Effort Plan trust.

    Named Canadian bishop in 1984, Blackmore became an Effort Plan trustee two years later. But Warren Jeffs stripped him of both roles, declaring him an “apostate” in 2002 and threatening anyone who associated with him with excommunication.

    Despite that, Blackmore held on to about half of the 1,000 FLDS in Canada and he began attracting disenfranchised American FLDS members to his congregation as Jeffs’s behaviour went quickly from odd to bizarre.

    From the total congregation of nearly 10,000 members, Jeffs banished fathers and husbands as well as anywhere from 400 to 1,0000 young men — known as the Lost Boys — whose presence threatened Jeffs’s absolute control over who would marry whom.

    In 2005, the attorneys general of Utah and Arizona went to court in Utah asking for an independent administrator to be appointed to oversee the United Effort Plan to stop the evictions and stop Jeffs from stripping all the assets.

    A judge appointed Bruce Wisan to administer the trust and sought members and former members to sit on an advisory board. Blackmore put his name forward; he and his 26 wives and more than 100 children lived on Effort Plan land and were at risk of expulsion.

    The judge rejected Blackmore as an official adviser. But, as Blackmore noted in his deposition, he became an unofficial adviser to Wisan, who also controlled the Canadian United Effort Plan land. It was the lawyers for Wisan and the Plan who asked Blackmore to do the deposition.

    Blackmore has always just played to the audience that matters most in his life, just as Ford has. It’s served them both well. And it’s just possible that Blackmore took a calculated risk with his deposition — redemption and possible veneration in exchange for some time in jail.

    Stay tuned. This sordid drama is far from over.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Daphne+Bramham+Polygamist+Blackmore+hidden+reason+admitting+underage+marriages/9642736/story.html

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  38. Canadian polygamist leader under investigation in Utah

    By Nate Carlisle | The Salt Lake Tribune March 19 2014

    The Utah Attorney General’s Office will investigate a polygamists leader’s admission he married a teenage girl years ago.

    But it’s not clear whether Winston Blackmore, who leads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Bountiful, British Columbia, committed any crime. In the deposition he gave last month, Blackmore said the marriage occurred in Utah — or at least he was pretty sure — the bride was 15 and had her parents’ consent to marry. The marriage happened in 2001 or 2002, an again uncertain Blackmore said, and was performed by Warren Jeffs. Blackmore and the now-woman are still married, he said.

    Utah law says 15-year-olds can marry with the permission of their parents and approval from the juvenile court. Blackmore did not state when he and the bride had sex.

    "We are currently investigating the allegations," the Utah Attorney General’s Office said in a statement The Salt Lake Tribune received Wednesday. "Attorney General Reyes does not view illegal activities that target children and other vulnerable populations lightly and will prosecute criminal activity when appropriate."

    Blackmore gave the deposition Feb. 28 at a law firm in Salt Lake City as part of a lawsuit filed by Elisa Wall against Jeffs and the FLDS. Wall says Jeffs forced her to marry her cousin when she was 14 years old. Blackmore is not a party in the lawsuit. His deposition was first reported by The Vancouver Sun.

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57704077-78/blackmore-utah-font-winston.html.csp

    ReplyDelete
  39. Mormons sue to get identity back from BC polygamist

    Winston Blackmore: Excommunicated leader of Bountiful-based sect registered various corporate names

    BY DAPHNE BRAMHAM, VANCOUVER SUN COLUMNIST JUNE 19, 2014

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants the B.C. Supreme Court to stop fundamentalist leader Winston Blackmore from using its name.

    Blackmore is the leader of a Bountiful-based 500-member polygamous sect, based on the teachings of Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith.

    The 15-million-member mainline church (colloquially known as the LDS or Mormons) rejected polygamy in 1890. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, it alleges that Blackmore registered the name, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Inc., in 2010.

    The LDS found that out when it tried earlier this year to register the name, which it says it had used in B.C. since 1838, and was blocked. (Before its incorporation in January, the Canadian branch of the Utah-based church was a trust set up under the laws of Alberta, although it had trademarked its name in both the United States and Canada.)

    The Mormons allege Blackmore “misappropriated the names, identity and reputation” of the mainstream church.

    The lawsuit’s allegations have not been tested in court and Blackmore has several weeks to file a response.

    In its notice of civil claim, the LDS notes: “The church and the plaintiffs have nothing whatsoever to do with those practicing polygamy today. Any church member who is found to be practicing polygamy is excommunicated, which is the most serious penalty the church can impose.”

    The suit goes on to allege that Blackmore has made statements “tending to discredit the wares, services or business” of the LDS, “directed public attention to the defendant’s wares, services and business in such a way as to cause or is likely to cause confusion,” and passed off his own products and services as those of the mainstream church.

    The LDS wants the court to order Blackmore to give up the corporate name and “deliver up or effect destruction upon oath of all signage, brochures and other materials of any kind in possession, custody or control … that may offend the injunctive relief sought.”

    The LDS says it has 30,000 members in 79 congregations in B.C. and more than 190,000 members across Canada.

    Blackmore sect represents mostly members of his large, extended family in B.C., Idaho, Utah and Arizona.

    Before forming his own group, Blackmore was the bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    After his excommunication by its leader Warren Jeffs, who is now serving a life sentence in Texas for sex crimes committed against children, Blackmore registered the name “The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” in 2008 in British Columbia.

    He changed the corporate name to “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Fundamentalists Inc.” in January 2010 then changed it again in May 2010 to “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Inc.”

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Mormons+identity+back+from+polygamist/9956573/story.html

    ReplyDelete
  40. On the EDge: FLDS funeral more than a family feud

    by Ed Kociela , OPINION – St. George News June 21, 2014

    Human frailty is never more evident, they say, than on the occasions of marriages, births, and funerals.

    We saw a sad example of that just days ago when the cops had to be called in to keep the peace when a local man and his siblings tried to pay their respects to their mother at Heideman Hughes Mortuary in St. George, only to be turned away by other family members.

    This wasn’t, however, your typical family feud. Instead, it was the remnant of a long-standing religious feud within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    It all began with the passing of Loana Silvester Harker Barlow Broadbent, 81, from complications resulting from a heart attack. Those familiar with the history of the area known as Short Creek – Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona – will recognize the familial names as those who were integral to the migration south of those who became disenfranchised from the mainstream LDS church and came to the area to practice the polygamous lifestyle of the FLDS.

    Over the years, there were power struggles within the fledgling sect, the most recent with the passing of Rulon Jeffs, who was the FLDS leader until his death in 2002.

    Shortly after his passing, his son, Warren Jeffs, proclaimed himself the prophet of the church and took iron-fisted control over this group of Mormon fundamentalists. There was a power struggle at that time between Warren Jeffs and Louis Barlow, who was also a member of the FLDS hierarchy.

    Warren Jeffs was subsequently charged with sex crimes in Utah, Arizona, and Texas and placed behind bars. But, he still held a death-grip on his followers, manipulating them from prisons in Utah and then Texas. His paranoia over losing control ran so deep that his relationships with brothers Lyle and Nephi were in on-again, off-again status. He continued to play such a role in the FLDS culture that he decided who would marry whom; the nutritional requirements for women and children, who were placed on a beans and water diet; the migration of followers from the ranch in Texas to other points in Colorado and South Dakota; and who would and would not retain membership. He even ordered that married couples refrain from sexual activity, that only a select group of men would be allowed to father the next generation of FLDS followers, men of his choosing.

    Halso excommunicated a number of followers who displeased him, including, not surprisingly, Jeremiah Barlow and several of his siblings whose only sin was being the offspring of one of Warren Jeffs’ strongest opponents.

    continued below

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  41. This is what happens in cults when one holds the power over those who are led to believe they are doing God’s will.

    This is nothing really new on our societal landscape. We saw it in Jonestown, we saw it in Waco, Texas. We saw it among the followers of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, L. Ron Hubbard, and, yes, that evil coterie in the southern California desert led by Charles Manson.

    How these people gain such an upper hand is one for the psychologists to explain, all I know is that it can prove dangerous when a wee segment of the population separates and insulates itself from the rest of society.

    But, this, again, should be nothing new for those who study Warren Jeffs and the FLDS culture and the practice/habit of tossing people from the community.

    Most of those excommunicated, of course, are young men, removed from the church and community because there are not enough women to sustain the polygamous lifestyle of those who live in Short Creek. Others are tossed because of charges of apostasy. Some, as in the case of Jeremiah Barlow, simply because of their bloodline.

    I know a young man who was excommunicated and wound up on the streets of Los Angeles, the victim of numerous abuses as a result of no education and a lifetime of indoctrination. He was so shattered by his childhood in the FLDS community that when the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon took place he believed that one of Warren Jeffs’ prophesies about “blood in the streets” being the sign that the walls of the prison that held him would come tumbling down was coming to fruition. The young man went into full panic mode, terrified that the self-proclaimed prophet, or one of his followers, would track him down for further abuse. The mere mention of some names connected to the FLDS community is enough to send him into hiding in his closet, shaking with fear.

    There’s another young man I know living in Las Vegas who is under the care and guidance of a woman who was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused during her years in the polygamous lifestyle. The young man was also removed from the community at a young age simply because there were too many males and not enough females to sustain the polygamous lifestyle.

    So, no, this isn’t your ordinary family feud. This is the result of a personal vendetta by a man who claims to talk to God; a man who has soaked his followers’ brains – from cradle to grave – with the belief that only those who follow his instruction will find salvation; a man who, as we have learned, was a sexual predator of children; a man whose lust for power, sex, and money overwhelmed any sense of decency he may have been born with.

    I understand Loana Silvester Harker Barlow Broadbent was a kind and decent woman, a longtime teacher in Short Creek, that she touched many lives in a positive manner, and we mourn her passing.

    I only wish all of her children would have had an opportunity to say goodbye.

    They were separated from her through no fault of their own.

    No bad days!

    Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

    http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2014/06/21/edge-flds-funeral-family-feud/#.U6cv95RdUVj

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  42. Bountiful students get A grades, school gets a D

    Discrepancies shine light on B.C.’s polygamous community’s education system

    BY DAPHNE BRAMHAM, VANCOUVER SUN COLUMNIST JUNE 26, 2014

    There were only A students in the Grade 10, 11 and 12 classes at the government-supported Mormon Hills School in the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C. in 2012.

    The average marks ranged from a low of 84 per cent in Grade 12 English to a high of 91 per cent in Grade 11 social studies and Grade 10 math.

    But that all changed when students wrote provincial exams.

    The students’ best average mark was 74 per cent in Grade 11 social studies. Their worst were bare passes in Grade 12 communications (53 per cent), Grade 10 math (54 per cent) and Grade 10 science (56 per cent).

    This “significant discrepancy” was one of a number of problems external evaluators found at the independent school that is run by Winston Blackmore.

    Blackmore is the father of more than 115 children and ‘husband’ to 26 wives. So, unsurprisingly, almost everyone connected with the school is related: the 182 students, the 11 teachers, the staff and the school’s directors.

    Blackmore, his brother and one of his sons are directors. Six of the teachers are named Blackmore; at least one is Winston’s daughter. And the school’s secretary is one of Blackmore’s so-called celestial wives, who is also the secretary for Blackmore’s company, J.R. Blackmore & Sons.

    Even six months after the three-member evaluation team first went to the school near Creston in October 2012, they found on their followup visit that student assessment “continues to challenge the staff.”

    Other problems at the kindergarten-to-Grade 12 school included: no comments on report cards as required by the Education Ministry; “haphazard tracking” of graduation transition portfolios; and, no information about the modified instructional programs for special needs children.

    The deficiencies were outlined in several reports made to B.C.’s Office of the Inspector of Independent Schools, which were provided in response to an access to information request.

    Other problems included not recording student grades promptly. As the evaluation report tartly noted: “Student grades should be recorded at the time the student completes the course and entered on the student’s 1704 (permanent student record) accordingly — not written on a Post-it Note to be entered the following academic year.”

    Evaluators found that some students received course credits for classes they didn’t take.

    And they questioned whether some credits were even valid since there was no supporting documentation that the required instructional hours had been fulfilled.

    continued below

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  43. There was no written policy regarding transfer credits to college. That may not be that surprising since course overviews for apprenticeship and workplace 11, math and Earth Science “continue to remain skeletal,” according to the most recent report.

    If there is any good thing to be said, it is that Mormon Hills isn’t as bad as it was in 2008.

    That year, evaluators concluded there was no way to tell what, if anything, the 14 students in Grades 8 and 9 were learning since all of them had “virtually identical reports.”

    They also pointed out — among other failings — that five of the teachers weren’t accredited and that the health and career program was being taught using a web-based version even though none of the school’s 20 computers were connected to the Internet.

    What hasn’t changed is the continuing and deliberate policy of the evaluators, bureaucrats and politicians not to question what is being taught in the government-accredited Mormon Church History course.

    It’s most recently described as using “material and literature from Mormon Church History as well as the Bible, Book of Mormon and the sermons of LeRoy Johnson.”

    Among Johnson’s revelations, for example, is that God determines who will marry whom and passes that on to the church’s prophet/president. It’s that teaching that has resulted in girls as young as 12 being forced by church leaders into ‘celestial’ or ‘plural’ marriages, which are inevitably reserved only for the most powerful of the men in the community.

    What is being taught is not Mormonism in the commonly understood meaning of that word, which is the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    (Blackmore has done what he can to confuse the issue by registering the mainstream church’s name in British Columbia. Only last week, the LDS church filed a civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court asking for its name back.)

    What Blackmore teaches his followers is a religious doctrine based on the teachings of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, that has been distilled and changed over the years since the mainstream church renounced polygamy in 1890 to justify polygamy.

    Despite all that, taxpayers’ money just keeps on flowing to Mormon Hills School: just under $3 million in the last four years, not including the amount of ministry staff time it has taken to get the school to comply with the basic requirements.

    Why does this continue? Because stopping it would require much more rigorous scrutiny of the school.

    It would likely require amending the Independent School Act to broaden the restrictions on what is taught in independent schools.

    And that would require political will — something that is as distressingly lacking on every aspect of the Bountiful file now, as it has for more than 65 years.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Daphne+Bramham+Bountiful+students+grades+school+gets/9978611/story.html

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