BCAG Shirley Bond’s Reply to our Letter re: Laying Charges in Bountiful

Ms. Nancy Mereska

President

Stop Polygamy in Canada Society

Email:  nmereska@MCSnet.ca

Dear Ms. Mereska:

Thank you for your correspondence where you outline the concerns expressed by the Stop Polygamy in Canada Society, and yourself as President of the Society, in regards to Winston Blackmore and the community of Bountiful in British Columbia.

The RCMP launched a new investigation in February 2011 following fresh allegations and new evidence related to the trafficking of young girls from Bountiful to polygamous communities in the United States.  These allegations came to light in the course of the recently-concluded constitutional reference, initiated by government in the British Columbia Supreme Court, regarding the constitutionality of Section 293 of the Criminal Code.

The investigation into those allegations remains ongoing.  The provincial government provides overall direction respecting police services in the province and ensures there are adequate and effective levels of policing.  Individual investigations, however, are conducted at arm’s-length from government, which cannot interfere or be seen to interfere with or direct police in particular investigations.  You may wish to contact Chief Superintendent Wayne Rideout of the RCMP for more information.  Chief Superintendent Rideout may be reached at:

Chief Superintendent Wayne Rideout

Deputy Criminal Operations Officer

RCMP “E” Division

5255 Heather Street

Vancouver BC  V5Z 1K6

The Criminal Justice Branch is committed to prosecuting perpetrators of offences when the Crown’s charge assessment policy has been met.  The charge assessment policy requires that a case be prosecuted if there is a substantial likelihood of conviction, and a prosecution is required in the public interest.

I directed on January 9, 2012 that a Special Prosecutor be appointed respecting the possible prosecution of sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors connected with conduct of members of Bountiful, from the early 1980s to the present.

Following my direction to the Criminal Justice Branch, on January 18, 2012, it was announced that Mr. Peter Wilson has been appointed as an independent Special Prosecutor in connection with an investigation into potential offences involving individuals associated with the community of Bountiful.  Mr. Wilson, a senior Vancouver lawyer, was appointed by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert W. G. Gillen, who was acting pursuant to a direction issued by myself as Minister of Justice and Attorney General under the authority of the Crown Counsel Act.

As I announced on March 26, 2012, Mr. Wilson’s mandate has now been expanded to include possible polygamy prosecutions.  Mr. Wilson will conduct an independent charge assessment review of any information brought forward from the ongoing RCMP investigation and determine if the evidence warrants proceeding with polygamy or other charges.  It was also announced that the Honourable Chief Justice Robert Bauman’s comprehensive decision on the constitutionality of the polygamy section of the Criminal Code will enable police and prosecutors to act with authority in investigating and prosecuting criminally polygamous relationships, and therefore, it is not necessary for a referral to a higher court.

You may view the media release that outlines more information about this on the Ministry of Justice news website:  www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/justice.

Thank you again for providing your concerns.

Sincerely,

Shirley Bond

Minister of Justice

and Attorney General

 

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