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'could face suit over commune school'
Lawyer says he is investigating
June 14, 2004
lawyer says B.C. will be a "sitting duck" for a civil suit if it has failed to
ensure children at the Bountiful polygamous commune are getting a decent
Marshall said he is investigating whether the Bountiful Elementary-Secondary
School offers an education that stands up to
and curriculum requirements.
is a fairly decent chance that litigation will follow if circumstances warrant,"
said Marshall, a Calgary lawyer who specializes in cases where clients have
been abused by large organizations.
was in Edmonton at the weekend to speak at a conference on cults.
said many of the students at the school on the commune near Lister in the
are not getting the education they need should
they choose to escape the cult.
a poor education, they are more likely to remain trapped in it because they
know nothing else.
not taught much about the outside world," Marshall said.
the facts of the [ suit] investigation come out along the lines I believe they
will, it seems to me the government should have known. They knew, or ought to
have known, that a proper education could not have been followed."
school falls under the Independent School Act and Education Minister Tom
Christensen has said there is no evidence from inspections that the school is
not following the act. "There's no indication they're not delivering a sound
education," Christensen said.
Bountiful resident Debbie Palmer told the cult conference that girls are
routinely pulled out of school at a young age to learn domestic chores in
preparation for marriage.
fled the commune in 1988 at age 15 after she became the sixth wife of a man in
his 50s. He was her third husband. She now lives in Prince Albert, Sask. with
her eight children.
women, two of whom escaped the commune, have filed a 4omplaint with the B.C.
Human Rights Tribunal asking for a public hearing into the treatment of women
and children at Bountiful.
women's-rights advocate, alleged the provincially funded school is teaching a
"sexist and racist curriculum.'
has said inspectors in 2003 "examined all curriculum materials, but could find
no evidence of teaching of racial superiority.'
The Vancouver Province 2004