As long as I can remember, the name “Bountiful” whispered from back lots of Canadian consciousnesses. Situated in South-eastern British Columbia, Bountiful holds its breath with eyes closed, praying no-one notices. Keep on driving – nothing to see here folks. Not really a town or village – Bountiful is referred to as a “settlement”. Since first settler Harold Blackmore arrived with his family in 1946, roughly 1000 people (descended from 6-8 men) call this Polygamist community home.
Bishop Winston Blackmore took the name “Bountiful” from The Book of Mormon in 1980 – despite dissension in the ranks, and a community now split into FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Inc. (a splinter group led by Winston Blackmore, who took offense when FLDS president and recent convicted felon Warren Jeffs got to big for his britches) – Bountiful remains unfazed by legal technicalities which frown upon incest, rape, underage/forced marriages, and illegal smuggling of child brides between Canada and Polygamist enclaves in America.
Until his 2006 arrest in Las Vegas, FLDS leader Warren Jeffs (a prominent member of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list – now serving time for Accomplice to Rape for forcing a 14 year old girl into marriage with her first cousin) visited Bountiful numerous times. A 2007 Provincial Court investigation concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to charge sect members with abuse or rape, based on the impossible task of finding victims willing to testify. Frustrated by defendants claims of “religious freedom”, special prosecutor William Peck took Section 293 of the Canadian Criminal Code regarding constitutional rights to practice Polygamy to the Supreme Court. In 2011, the Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld Canada’s Polygamy laws.
Today the British Columbia Criminal Justice Branch approved charges of Polygamy and “child related offenses” against 4 members of the Bountiful sect. Winston Blackmore and brother-in-law James Oler face Polygamy charges. (Blackmore is alleged to have 24 wives, Oler, 4) Blackmore’s son Brandon and wife Emily are charged with unlawfully removing a child under 16 from Canada “with the intention that an act be committed outside Canada that would be an offense against Section 151 (sexual interference) or 152 (invitation to sexual touching),” Newly appointed prosecutor Peter Wilson, “declined to approve” further charges of sexual exploitation – stating the standard of approving charges was not met in relation to the offenses.