VICTORIA – A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve further charges against anyone associated with the Bountiful community, where a fundamentalist Christian sect practices polygamy.
The B. . C.. . Prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday that Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson’s decision brings the matter to a close after years of investigation and indictment.
Wilson’s mandate included investigating the possible prosecution of those charged with sexual exploitation and other alleged crimes against minors, as well as crimes related to polygamy, prosecutors said.
In assessing the charges, Wilson said he considered relevant case law and followed the test set by the prosecution that the Crown Attorney must measure all available evidence against two factors: whether there is a significant likelihood of conviction, and so, whether the public interest must be prosecuted.
The exploitation fees recommended by investigators were the same as those presented to his predecessor Richard Peck in 2006, with one exception, Wilson said in a statement.
« Furthermore, most of the statements made by the complainant were made during an RCMP investigation in 2005 and are therefore exactly the same statements made by Dr. . Peck. «
Wilson was appointed special attorney in 2012 after Peck decided not to continue his mandate.
There was some new evidence related to allegations of sexual exploitation involving a person. Wilson said he considered this but ended up finding many of the same issues that previous prosecutors identified with the proposed charges.
« A major problem common to all proposed sexual exploitation counts is that they would have to be followed up with non-cooperative witnesses, » he said.
The applicants, according to their testimony and police reports, appear to be « satisfied with their situation as wives in the plural, » he said, adding that the result was a case « which was based solely on circumstantial evidence. «
« In many cases, alleged sexual exploitation occurred years, if not decades ago. Prosecution would likely cause significant emotional distress for applicants who have vigorously rejected any notion that they are now or ever victims. «
James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two rival leaders of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have been sentenced in AB. C.. . Court of Polygamy practiced in 2018 and sentenced to house arrest and parole.
Oler was also convicted and sentenced to 12 months in prison last year for bringing a 15-year-old girl to the United States to be married.
Two other members of the Bountiful community have been convicted for bringing a 13-year-old girl across the border.
In his statement, Wilson said investigators recommended the prosecution of three suspects and earlier this year provided new information regarding the alleged removal of two more children who subsequently married members of the same sect in the United States.
In either case, Wilson said there was no substantial likelihood of conviction, so he refused to approve the charges.
Insp. Brent Novakoski, the Chief Investigator for the Southeast District of the RCMP in B.. . C.. . The announcement « concludes a lengthy, comprehensive and complex investigation that spanned two decades, two countries and a series of legal innovations. «
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