Source: Associated Press
CRANBROOK, British Columbia (AP) — Two former leaders of an isolated polygamous community in Canada were convicted Monday of practicing polygamy after a decades-long legal fight, setting up another potential court battle over the constitutionality of Canada’s polygamy laws.
Winston Blackmore, 60, and James Oler, 53, were found guilty by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan, who said the evidence was clear that Blackmore was married to 25 women at the same time and that Oler was married to five women in the tiny community of Bountiful.
Blackmore, 60, never denied having the wives as part of his religious beliefs that call for “celestial” marriages. His lawyer Blair Suffredine has already said Blackmore would challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s polygamy laws if his client was found guilty.
“I’m guilty of living my religion and that’s all I’m saying today because I’ve never denied that,” Blackmore told reporters after the verdict. “Twenty-seven years and tens of millions of dollars later, all we’ve proved is something we’ve never denied. I’ve never denied my faith. This is what we expected.”