Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) are currently serving six-month and three-months house arrest, respectively, for polygamy convictions.

Convicted Bountiful polygamists unrepentant: court documents

Two Mormon fundamentalists told probation officers they feel no remorse for multiple marriages

Pre-sentencing reports for two Mormon fundamentalists convicted of polygamy concluded that while neither expressed remorse for their actions, they were willing to comply with conditional sentencing orders.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler were sentenced to six months and three months house arrest respectively on one count of polygamy in June by Justice Sheri Donegan.

The Canadian Criminal Code identifies a five-year maximum sentence for polygamy, however, there is no modern case precedent for the courts to rely on as it has been over 100 years since it was last prosecuted.

The reports, written by probation officers, compiled information gathered through interviews from varying sources connected to both Blackmore and Oler — the identities of which are protected by publication bans.

Blackmore was charged and convicted of practicing polygamy with 24 women, while Oler was charged and convicted of the same offence involving five women.

During the trial, the court heard evidence that both Blackmore and Oler had entered into marriages with underage girls.

Charges were approved by Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson in 2014, after years of constitutional polygamy vagueness and investigations stemming back to the early 1990s.

Under the Mormon fundamentalism doctrine followed by Blackmore and the Bountiful community south of Creston, polygamy — or plural marriage — is a central tenet to achieving salvation.

Blackmore, 61, told the probation officer that he no longer intends to enter into any more polygamous marriages, however the report also notes concerns that he may continue to facilitate and support polygamous unions of other Mormon fundamentalists.

Blackmore has been adamant throughout the entire legal proceedings against him that he will not deny his faith, which he reiterated in the pre-sentencing report.

“No outcome will stop my faith — (not) a firing squad or jail,” Blackmore told the author of the document.

Blackmore added that his only regret was no longer being able to travel to the United States, where some of his family members reside.

Blackmore asserts that no harm was done by entering into plural marriages, which is contradicted by another source in the report that describes Blackmore as holding a great of power and authority over the community, particularly women.

Blackmore resides in Bountiful where he lives in a building central to the community and participates in gatherings at a dining hall for buffet-style meals.

The report identifies 149 children resulting from Blackmore’s plural marriages, some of which only see him at breakfast as he works seven days a week operating a wood post business outside Creston.

Blackmore told the probation officer he was audited by the Canada Revenue Agency, which determined that appropriate taxes had not been paid. Blackmore said he defended himself unsuccessfully, while others within the report suspect he may be bankrupt.

Sources told the probation officer that a custodial jail sentence would carry significant financial and emotional impact to wives and children.

At the trial, the court heard evidence that the Bountiful community split in 2002 as the death of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) leader Rulon Jeffs touched off a leadership struggle between his son, Warren, and Blackmore.

That dispute ended with the community splitting allegiances between both Blackmore and Jeffs, causing rifts even between family members.

Oler, 54, also expressed no remorse in his pre-sentencing report, indicating to a probation officer that he doesn’t see any victims from polygamy.

According to the report, Oler has 24 children with five wives.

Oler currently lives in isolation outside of the province working as a mechanic, but a police officer interviewed said he would resume his polygamous way of life if he returned to Bountiful.

Appointed as bishop of the community by Warren Jeffs following the FLDS leadership dispute, Oler was kicked out in 2012 for participating in public polygamy hearings, according to a police officer interviewed by the probation officer.

Oler said he is no longer involved with the church but would not explain why to the report author.

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