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Bountiful community leaders charged with polygamy


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VANCOUVER - Two leaders in the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C. have been charged with practising polygamy, which is a Criminal Code offence.

The two are Winston Blackmore, 52, and James Oler, 44. Oler is the bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, while Blackmore is the former FLDS bishop who was ousted in 2002 after a power struggle with the sect's prophet Warren Jeffs.

Blackmore has been charged with “practising polygamy” on May 1, 2005, according to provincial court files. The file says the unusual charge was sworn on January 6 against the 52-year-old man, but there is no reference to a court appearance being made yet.

Details of the incident that led to the charge are not available in the court file, but it allegedly occured in Creston, B.C. Practicing polygamy is illegal under section 293 (1) (a) of the criminal code.

Oler is chargd with practising polygamy and the date of his alleged offence is Nov. 1, 2004.

Although the attorney general’s office is making no comment until a press conference at noon, sources in the community of Bountiful say that Blackmore has been arrested.

Blackmore, who has had 26 wives and has more than 100 children, has been outspoken in his belief that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects his religious practise of polygamy — a tenet that was set out by Mormonism's founder Joseph Smith, but was denounced by the mainstream church in 1890.

At a polygamy summit in 2006, Blackmore admitted that he had had "several" very young "wives" including one that was under 16. He repeated that when was interviewed by CNN's Larry King.

Blackmore was the FLDS bishop until he was ousted in 2002 after a power struggle with Warren Jeffs, the church's prophet who has been convicted of being an accomplice to the rape of a minor in Utah and is currently in jail in Arizona facing similar charges there. Jeffs and other senior FLDS members have also been charged in Texas with offences related to the so-called 'spiritual marriages' to under-aged girls.

Blackmore now leads a breakaway group that lives in the southeastern corner of British Columbia and is the head of the Mormon Hills School Society, which runs a government-funded, independent school.

Over the years, Blackmore amassed a multi-million-dollar business empire that included a post-and-pole company, logging operations and a large farm.

Little is known about Oler, who is a mechanic. He has never spoken to the media and there are few photos of him. However, people within the community have confirmed that Oler has at least three wives, several of whom were in their teens when they assigned to him in placement marriages by Jeffs.

"I'm just ecstatic," said Audrey Vance, co-chair of Altering Destiny Through Education, which is based in Creston and has lobbied for charges. "We all know this is a cult and we have to do something to address this because in Canada women do have equal rights."

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What I still find bothersom, is that if he was not married to these girls, who had to consent, and had regular sex with them, that would be ok. BUT to do the same and marry them, and have to 'look after them' is wrong.

BTW the age of consent is 14 there.

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What I still find bothersom, is that if he was not married to these girls, who had to consent, and had regular sex with them, that would be ok. BUT to do the same and marry them, and have to 'look after them' is wrong.

BTW the age of consent is 14 there.

This group has been in the news many times over the years, but this is the first time I've heard of someone being arrested for polygamy.

The major complaint before was abuse, that women were out seeking help for the wives.

Wally Oppal (the governmental minister involved) has been in the news more these days. I really should pay more attention to this guy...

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