Bountiful leaders in court on polygamy charges

Polygamy is the hot topic on MoralityMeter this week–get your vote in!

Winston Blackmore of Bountiful in a file photo.


Winston Blackmore of Bountiful in a file photo.

Photograph by: Ian Smith/Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Sun

CRESTON, B.C. — Two fundamentalist Mormon leaders from Bountiful, B.C., are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on polygamy charges.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler have yet to enter a plea.

Blackmore, 52, is the former bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Bountiful. Oler, 44, is the current bishop, who replaced Blackmore.

Blackmore’s indictment lists 19 women with whom he is said to have "practised a form of polygamy or practised a kind of conjugal union" between May 1, 2005 and Dec. 8, 2006.

Oler’s indictment lists only two names: Renae Oler, his legal wife, and Amelia Steed.

Blackmore and Oler each lead a faction within the Bountiful community of about 1,000, which has been bitterly divided since 2002.

Last year, B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal appointed a special prosecutor to look into the likelihood of gaining a conviction against the two men.

Earlier this month, special prosecutor Terry Robertson gave his opinion, and the two men were charged with committing polygamy.

Critics say polygamy charges will be difficult to prove as a criminal offence because of the advances the Canadian Criminal Code has made in recent years toward non-traditional unions like gay marriage.

Blackmore’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, the former Liberal MLA for Nelson- Creston, says he will use this argument in his client’s defence.

Bountiful is a polygamist settlement in the Creston Valley of southeastern B. C.

With files from Vancouver Sun

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