B.C. child bride case: No more charges related to investigation in Bountiful
James Oler leaves court in Cranbrook, B.C., Monday, July 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VANCOUVER -- A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve any further charges against people associated with the community of Bountiful where a fundamentalist Christian sect practises polygamy.
The B.C. Prosecution Service says in a statement the decision from special prosecutor Peter Wilson brings the matter to a close after years of investigations and charge assessments.
It says Wilson's mandate included considering the possible prosecution of people accused of sexual exploitation and other offences against minors, as well as polygamy-related offences.
Wilson says in assessing charges he considered relevant case law and followed the test set out by the prosecution service, which states Crown counsel must measure all the available evidence against two factors: whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether the public interest requires prosecution.
Two rival leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Bountiful, James Oler and Winston Blackmore, were convicted in a B.C. court of practising polygamy in 2018 and sentenced to house arrest and probation.
Oler was also convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail last year for taking a 15-year-old girl into the United States to be married.
Two other members of the Bountiful community have been convicted for removing a 13-year-old girl across the border to marry a member of the same sect.
A statement from Insp. Brent Novakoski, the senior investigating officer for the RCMP's southeast district in B.C., says the announcement from the prosecution service “concludes a lengthy, extensive and complex investigation that has spanned two decades, two countries and involved a number of legal firsts.”
Novakoski says investigators worked tirelessly to gather information and evidence about historical allegations in Bountiful that spanned the late 1990s to around 2005.
“While the investigation into these specific allegations has now concluded, we will pursue and investigate allegations of this nature and support the victims.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.