Special prosecutor considers charges against Bountiful members

The RCMP has handed over a report on the polygamous community near Creston to B.C.'s Criminal Justice Branch.

Winston Blackmore

Winston Blackmore

The RCMP has handed over a report on the polygamous community near Creston to B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch.

Now independent special prosecutor Peter Wilson will examine the report and determine whether criminal charges should be laid against people connected to Bountiful.

Possible charges could relate to sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors by people associated with Bountiful between the early 1980s and today. Wilson could also recommend charges of polygamy.

A statement by the Criminal Justice Branch, issued on Wednesday, July 10, said the RCMP handed over portions of its investigative report on July 3, but more material is likely to come from the RCMP over the coming months.

While Wilson could not provide a specific timeline to review the extensive investigative material, he did say it would likely be a number of months before charges could be laid.

Before charges are laid, Wilson must be confident that there is a substantial likelihood of conviction, and that a prosecution is in the public’s interest.

The RCMP has been investigating plural marriages in Bountiful for nearly two decades.

In 2009, two Bountiful leaders, Winston Blackmore and James Oler, were charged with polygamy, but the charges were thrown out when a judge ruled the men’s rights were violated.

In November 2011, the BC Supreme Court upheld laws against polygamy in Canada.

RCMP have been investigating allegations that teenage girls were taken from Bountiful to another Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in the U.S.