The polygamous families living in Bountiful, B.C., shouldn’t be ripped apart because some in the community may have committed crimes, a lawyer for the isolated religious sect told court Wednesday.
Robert Wickett, who represents the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, didn’t deny the allegations of abuse, child brides and human trafficking that have become central to the debate about whether polygamy should remain illegal.
Instead, Mr. Wickett said if some members of the community have committed crimes, only they should be punished for them.
“It is not the position of the church that criminal acts, including child abuse or other crimes, that may have been committed in the community are to be excused or condoned,” Mr. Wickett said during the final week of arguments in B.C. Supreme Court.
“This church, like any other, is comprised of a vast variety of people. Most are hard-working, law abiding citizens. Some may have committed crimes, but it would be wrong to visit the crimes of some upon an entire community.”
The landmark case is examining whether Canada’s laws against polygamy are constitutional.
It was prompted by the failed prosecution in 2009 of two men from Bountiful, a community of about 1,000 people near Creston, B.C., not far from the Canada-U.S. border. Unlike the mainstream Mormon church, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago, followers of the FLDS believe plural marriage will benefit them in heaven.
The court has heard that about 100 residents of Bountiful are husbands and wives in polygamous marriages.
Mr. Wickett said if the law is upheld, those families would have two choices: they could either voluntarily end their marriages, in some cases separating children from their parents, or face criminal charges.
“I urge you to consider the impact of those inevitable prosecutions upon the families in Bountiful,” Mr. Wickett told Chief Justice Robert Bauman.
The law would “dismember their families.”
The provincial and federal governments have argued polygamy inherently causes a long list of harms, including abuse, the trafficking of young girls to be married, substandard education and the casting off of young boys. The governments have insisted all are present in Bountiful.
The court has heard shocking allegations including the marriages of teenage girls, some as young as 12, to much older men in the United States, as well as American teens being moved to Canada to marry men in Bountiful.
Former residents of Bountiful and its sister communities in the FLDS recounted stories of sexual and physical abuse, forced marriage and child labour.
Mr. Wickett made no attempt to refute those allegations, but he said upholding the polygamy law is not the answer.
“If the allegations are true, they should be dealt with according to the available laws,” he said, referring to the cross-border marriages. “Section 293 [of the Criminal Code, which prohibits polygamy] will play no part and is utterly unnecessary to deal with such harms.”
Mr. Wickett also questioned the claim that polygamy itself is to blame for cases of alleged abuse within Bountiful and the FLDS.
He noted the court also heard from other fundamentalist Mormons, including women currently living in Bountiful, who testified they were happy with their lives and freely chose to live in polygamous marriages.
“The negative experiences of some within the FLDS or Mormon polygamy generally are not the experiences of all,” said Mr. Wickett.
“They’re all polygamists. The differences in their experiences relate to the behaviour of individuals within the community and within their relationships.”
The community has been under scrutiny for two decades, but police and prosecutors had resisted laying charges over concerns the law was unconstitutional.
That changed in 2009, when Winston Blackmore and James Oler were each charged with practising polygamy. The charges were thrown out later that year.
Mr. Blackmore and Mr. Oler each lead separate, divided factions within Bountiful. Mr. Wickett represents the side aligned with Mr. Oler, while Mr. Blackmore’s congregation has boycotted the hearings.
The court has heard Mr. Blackmore has as many as 25 wives and more than 130 children, while Mr. Oler is believed to be married to five women.
Both Mr. Blackmore and Mr. Oler were implicated in FLDS records seized in Texas that outlined more than 30 cross-border marriages involving teen girls.
Mr. Oler and Mr. Blackmore were each alleged to have travelled to the United States to marry children, and both men were also accused of bringing their own teenage daughters across the border to be married.
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Law is about logic, its about weighing the positives versus the negatives and there is no room for zealousness, bigotry or hatred.
The problem is, the issue of "Polygamy" is in the eyes of many, an issue of abuse of female children and that is where the issue is diverted from a rational examination of the relevant facts.
Let's deal with them.
Robert Wickett of the FLDS approached the issue with classic legal logic that is guaranteed to win at the end of the day, baring a zealot's judicial abuse of power to make a political decision of a legal question, a route taken increasingly by judges who are ethically challenged not to mention suffering from severe personality disorders and or a mental health problem but that's another story.
Child Abuse is dealt with by Child Protection Legislation and its a fact that the FLDS communities are rampant in child abuse , not that the members see it that way but anyone with a brain elsewhere does. Fact is, boys are thrown out of the community to make it possible for older men to have multiple "young wives" who get married shortly after they are physically able to conceive while not having the emotional maturity to make that decision as would be viewed by any average person.
The FLDS are a CULT, a Religious CULT, that was founded on systemic abuse and fraud. The founder, told god fearing women that god instructed them to have sex with him. He had total contempt for society and norms, he founded his own bank and even printed his own currency and its his legacy, his words, that are now regarded as the "words of the prophet".
As obscene as the Religious Cults are, there are plenty of other religious groups that fall into the CULT category who don't subscribe to polygamy but who create endless generations of children psychologically abused and brainwashed to follow cult doctrine. That's not illegal, its tolerated in Canada.
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Child abuse is child abuse, the only way that can be addressed is by
education that includes education on what is abuse and how to report abuse and
to deal appropriately with CULTS who habitually brainwash their children that
the rest of the world is all wrong , bad and they are the only true believers
The BC and Federal Government have very stupidly, attempted to attack the child abuse problem with the Polygamy laws that have NO relevance whatsoever.
The fact is multiple women can live together with a hoard of children, in fact, specifically alienate any and all fathers from the children's lives and that's normal legal practice in CANADA as the courts promote and approve of that sort of behaviour.
A very large number of children with one father begs the question as to just how those children can receive an appropriate amount of parenting from their father. The problem is, in Canada, Fathers have very little value.
That problem can be addressed by a Legal Presumption of Equal Parenting after separation and reform of child support legislation that has no other purpose than to transfer wealth from men to women and to impoverish men after separation not to mention make it as difficult as possible for children to have a relationship with both parents.
Child abuse is child abuse and polygamous marriages are just one form of relationship that raises red flags as does relationships between women with mulitple children with no relationship with their fathers and thats a very serious problem of child abuse in Canada that the governments, federal and provincial turn a deliberate blind eye.
At this election, just remember that Igy had problems with access, Harper has kids, both of whom have apparently not make any statements towards support of a legal presumption of equal parenting.
The Conservatives, used a Private members bill for Equal Parenting, a bill EVERYONE knew would Die because an election would be called. Harper cowardly failed to make it a party policy and used the private member's bill to escape any attacks by the Extreme Feminist lobby group.
When it comes to Equal Parenting, every father in Canada should note that Jack Layton, is the most anti father politician in Canada and that's a thought to remember each night you cant sleep because your kids are with a man hating alienator