(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

Blades cut through Kootenay Ice 8-3

The Ice couldn’t come back against the Saskatoon Blades after an early three-goal deficit

Gord McArthur back in action from retirement

After eight years McArthur slew his kryptonite at the World Cup Ice Climbing tour in Switzerland

RDEK takes steps towards reducing carcass pit use

The first step towards addressing the issue of carcass pits in the… Continue reading

Celtic tradition is Heather Rankin’s musical starting point

Cape Breton singer’s Key City Theatre stop her first show of 2019, first solo show in B.C.

Soccer registration in full swing for 2019

KEYSA has started their soccer registration for the REP/development and house streams

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Woensdregt: ‘Imprinting the Day’

Rev. Yme Woensdregt Many of us, even faithful believers, feel like we… Continue reading

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Columbia Valley RCMP searching for misisng person

Police ask for help in finding Elizabeth Stewart, who hasn’t contacted family since Jan. 14

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Most Read