Yukon News

RCMP won’t pursue bigamy charges

John Thompson Wednesday May 23, 2012

Ian Stewart/Yukon News

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Evangeline Ramirez says she didn't know about her husband's second marriage until after they separated.

The Yukon’s RCMP won’t pursue bigamy charges against a Whitehorse man, despite ample evidence that he had two wives.

That’s bad news for Evangeline Ramirez. She asked the Mounties to investigate her husband in the autumn, as she was embroiled in a nasty divorce trial that she subsequently lost.

Benjamin Toquero admits to having another wife and five children in the Philippines, but the two differ about when he disclosed this to Ramirez.

Ramirez insists she didn’t know about the second marriage until they split up; Toquero insists she knew from the start about his other wife, who he couldn’t divorce for good reason.

Divorce isn’t allowed in the Philippines, and annulments are pricey.

Ramirez pressed the Mounties to charge Toquero with bigamy. But the force isn’t interested, Sgt. Don Rogers wrote in an April 30 letter.

“We received the opinion back from the Crown on March 5, 2012, and their decision was that, though there appears to be sufficient evidence to support a charge of bigamy, it is not in the public interest to pursue such charge,” the letter states.

“I am not in a position due to solicitor-client privilege to further share the specific reasons for their decision. I can tell you that the decision was based upon a sound review of all the facts and consideration of all other avenues taken to this matter.

“Please be advised that our investigation is closed and will not be reopened.”

It’s another setback for Ramirez, following Judge Leigh Gower’s decision against her during a messy divorce trial in November.

Gower has ordered her to sell the family assets, which include several vehicles and two homes, and split the difference with Toquero, after debts have been paid.

Ramirez wanted the legitimacy of their marriage to decide the matter. But Gower found it to be, in a way, beside the point. The couple’s company and big assets were all jointly owned, so even with the marriage deemed invalid, Toquero still owned half of everything, Gower concluded.

Gower also found Ramirez to be unreliable, after she refused to disclose financial details about the couple’s janitorial business, and made confusing, contradictory statements on the witness stand.

That’s not to mean that Toquero himself is blameless. He “clearly lied,” Gower concluded, by claiming he was single on his immigration application, marriage papers, and statement of claim. But Toquero’s story remained consistent at trial.

The trial also featured its share of melodrama. At one point, protesters - mostly related to Ramirez - waved placards in front of the courthouse. At another, Ramirez appeared to suffer a panic attack on the stand and was whisked away in an ambulance.

In January, the Yukon’s registrar declared the marriage to be cancelled. “This means the marriage never took place,” a Jan. 24 letter states.

Ramirez has complained to the Canadian Judicial Council about Gower, alleging that the judge was in a conflict of interest in hearing her case. But the council has dismissed her allegations.

In 1998, Ramirez hired Mark Radke to dissolve a restaurant business. Radke was a law partner of Justice Gower at the time.

“The fact that Justice Gower, more than a decade before your proceedings came before the courts, was associated with the law firm that represented you, does not, in and of itself, create an inference of bias,” the council wrote on April 2.

Ramirez is now seeking to have her case heard by the Yukon’s Court of Appeals.

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