A former religious leader has been found guilty of polygamy after marrying more than two dozen women over the course of 25 years.
Winston Blackmore, 60, and James Oler, 53, were convicted of practising plural or “celestial” marriage in the fundamentalist community of Bountiful, B.C.
Blackmore was charged with practicing plural or ‘celestial’ marriage after he married 25 women. Blackmore has fathered more than 145 children from his marriages.
It was Winston’s ex-wife, Jane Blackmore that brought him down.
According to CBCNews Jane said in court Winston had told her he was ‘only doing what God told him to do,’ in having multiple wives.
BC Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan praised Jane as a highly credible and reliable witness.
‘She was a careful witness,’ Donegan said. ‘There was nothing contrived or rehearsed in her answers. She was impartial.’
The trial last 12 days, but the case against Blackmore has been going on for decades.
In the early 1990s, Blackmore as well as accused polygamist James Oler, 53, were investigated by the provincial government. However, according to CBCNews, they were not prosecuted at the time because of confusion over Canadian polygamy laws.
Both men are former bishops of the sect in the province’s southeast. Neither denied having multiple marriages and Blackmore has fathered more than 145 children from his marriages.
“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.”
In 2011, the court ruled that banning polygamy was constitutional and did not violate religious freedoms.
Oler meanwhile is currently waiting the verdict in his case. Oler has five wives, its unknown how many children he has.
Blackmore was accused of ‘a kind of conjugal union’ with 24 women between 1990 and 2014, according to court documents.
Oler faced the same charge involving five women between 1993 and 2009.
Article Sources: Daily Mail