(Trevor Crawley/Cranbrook Townsman)

BREAKING: Winston Blackmore found guilty of polygamy in landmark B.C. trial

Blackmore and James Oler were accused of having multiple wives

Breaking: Winston Blackmore and James Oler have been found guilty of practicing polygamy.

More to come.

A verdict is expected Monday in a trial of two former leaders of a British Columbia fundamentalist church who are charged with polygamy.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan has been presiding over the trial of Winston Blackmore and James Oler, who are accused of having multiple wives.

Both men were at one time bishops of separate sects in the isolated community of Bountiful in southeastern B.C.

READ: Verdict date set for polygamy trial

READ ALSO: Polygamy trial wraps up

The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Utah, officially renounced polygamy in the late 19th century and disputes the fundamentalist group’s connection to Mormonism.

Blackmore is accused of having two dozen wives, while Oler is alleged to have married five women. Each man is charged with one count of polygamy.

The legal fight dates back to the early 1990s when police first investigated allegations that residents of an isolated religious community were practising the “celestial” marriages.

A lack of clarity around Canada’s polygamy laws led to failed attempts at prosecuting Blackmore, followed by several efforts to clarify the legislation, including a constitutional reference question to the B.C. Supreme Court.

The court ruled in 2011 that laws banning polygamy were valid and did not violate religious freedoms guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Blair Suffredine, Blackmore’s lawyer, says he will apply for a stay of the decision because of its reliance on evidence that was gathered while there was confusion around the legality of Canada’s polygamy laws.

Oler was appointed to lead community members in Bountiful following Blackmore’s excommunication from the sect in 2002 by Warren Jeffs, head prophet of the U.S.-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting two of his child brides.

Much of the evidence in the 12-day trial came from marriage and personal records seized in 2008 by law enforcement officials from the Yearning for Zion Ranch, an FLDS church compound in Texas.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Senior Bandits stay alive in district playoff action

The Cranbrook Bandits were able to stave off elimination by beating the Bitterroot Bucs 6-3

Cranbrook man in custody on several weapons offences

A Cranbrook man is facing 10 weapon-related charges after alleged assault with bear spray

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Four in custody after armed robbery, suspects linked to other recent crimes

Four people are in custody after Cranbrook RCMP responded to a robbery… Continue reading

Stolen credit card suspect caught on video

Cranbrook RCMP investigating theft from vehicle

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

REALM’s bi-annual picnic at Rotary Park

REALM, Cranbrook’s organization who provides services to individuals of the community with… Continue reading

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

Most Read