Two girls, 12, may have been smuggled into U.S. for marriage

RCMP asked to probe claim that parents helped deliver children to Warren Jeffs
 
By Keith Fraser, The Province February 20, 2011
 

New allegations that parents from Bountiful may have smuggled young girls across the border to marry controversial FLDS leader Warren Jeffs have been forwarded to the RCMP, says Attorney-General Barry Penner.

Meanwhile, officials in the attorney-general’s ministry have applied to reopen the polygamy trial being heard in B.C. Supreme Court in order to have that same evidence heard by a judge now looking at whether the polygamy law is constitutional.

In an affidavit filed Friday in B.C. Supreme Court, the ministry says it received new information last week from a Texas prosecutor about the alleged child smuggling.

The prosecutor told B.C. officials that two 12-year-old girls from Bountiful were reportedly “celestially married” to Jeffs in 2005.

A girl identified only as “Child B” was driven by her father across the border to Short Creek, Ariz., accompanied by the girl’s mother, for the purpose of the marriage, according to court documents.

The girl was then driven to Texas by an official of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.

A second girl, identified as “Child C,” was also driven by her father to Short Creek and then on to Texas by an FLDS official.

A third girl, identified as “Child A,” was 13 years old when she was taken across the border and married to the fundamentalist Mormon leader in Arizona in 2004. Her parents participated in the wedding ceremony.

The documents say some of the facts about “Child A” were known previously by the government.

“I directed our staff to forward the [new] information to RCMP for potential investigation,” Penner said Friday.

“Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it’s an offence to procure a child for a sexual offence. In Canada, it is an offence to have sex with a young person under a certain age.”

Penner added he had to be cautious and can’t say too much about the case.

“I was very disturbed by the information that we received a few days ago,” he said.

According to the court documents, the evidence at issue contains the sensitive personal information of a number of individuals, two of whom are still children.

“All three of the children may have been victims of serious crimes,” says the court application filed by ministry lawyer Craig Jones.

The application also seeks an order granting the ministry leave to introduce copies of the birth registration records of the children.

The application, which is expected to be heard Feb. 25, says it seeks sealing and confidentiality orders for the girls and will only introduce the evidence if those orders are granted.

Jeffs, a “prophet” in the FLDS, is awaiting trial in Texas on sex charges involving minors.

The polygamy trial concluded earlier this month with final arguments scheduled to begin March 28.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman has been asked to determine whether the polygamy law is constitutional.

The issue was referred to him after two FLDS leaders in Bountiful had polygamy charges stayed in 2009.

kfraser@theprovince.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

http://www.theprovince.com/life/girls+have+been+smuggled+into+marriage/4316972/story.html

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