Polygamy charges approved in B.C. for four in Bountiful commune

Criminal Justice Branch says Winston Blackmore and James Oler face polygamy charges; Oler charged with unlawfully removing a child from Canada

Winston Blackmore speaks to the media from the isolated religious commune of Bountiful, B.C. Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011. A special prosecutor has approved polygamy charges against the two leaders of an isolated religious sect in southeastern B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Winston Blackmore speaks to the media from the isolated religious commune of Bountiful, B.C. Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011. A special prosecutor has approved polygamy charges against the two leaders of an isolated religious sect in southeastern B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

CRANBROOK, B.C. – A special prosecutor has approved polygamy charges against the two leaders of an isolated religious sect in southeastern British Columbia.

The B.C. Criminal Justice Branch says Winston Blackmore and James Oler are each charged with polygamy, while Oler is also charged with unlawfully removing a child from Canada.

Blackmore and Oler are leaders of separate sects in the religious commune known as Bountiful, where residents follow a fundamentalist form of Mormonism that still holds polygamy as a tenet of the faith.

Two other people, Brandon Blackmore and Emily Crossfield, also face charges alleging the removal of a child from Canada.

In 2009, polygamy charges against Blackmore and Oler were thrown out over how the province chose a special prosecutor, prompting the government to launch a constitutional reference case that eventually upheld the anti-polygamy law.

Peter Wilson was appointed as a special prosecutor in January 2012 to reconsider whether charges should be laid, and he’ll be overseeing the case for the Crown.

The Criminal Justice Branch said that in approving the polygamy charges, Wilson considered evidence previously collected by police and new evidence that had been gathered.

The polygamy charges approved against Winston Blackmore and Oler are similar to the charges both men faced in 2009, the branch said.

“The charges … alleging the unlawful removal of a child from Canada are based primarily on new information that came to light as a result of investigations that unfolded in the United States. The RCMP obtained a large volume of documentary information seized by investigative authorities in the United States.”

The branch said Wilson declined to approve other criminal charges, such as alleged offences of sexual exploitation, after determining that the standard for approving those charges hadn’t been met.

The charges were sworn Wednesday morning in a Cranbrook, B.C. court. First appearances for the four accused are set for Oct. 9 in Creston provincial court.




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Polygamy charges approved in B.C. for four in Bountiful commune

  1. How many years has this taken so far?

  2. Whilst I don’t agree with any fundamental sect nor am I a religious person, I knew and played hockey with Winston while living in Creston. He seemed a likeable guy and didn’t go preaching and pushing his religion at you. I believe he’s being railroaded with these charges, the motivation unclear. IMO, religion is a private matter, with polygamy falling into that category. The prosecution is riding a slippery slope on this one. Hopefully it will all come out in court, especially the so-called criminal element of the case.

    • Polygamy is illegal in Canada.

      However, I believe that what ‘consenting adults’ do in the bedroom is up to them.

      60 year old men ‘marrying’ 12 year old girls….raised in the sect, and knowing no other life….is an entirely different matter.

      It’s again a different matter when all these pregnant ‘wives’ are listed with the welfare dept as single mothers. Then the whole crowd lives on public tax money.

      The boys are regularly thrown out of the community, so the older men can gather more young ‘wives’. The boys….now called ‘lost boys’ have no education, and no idea what the world outside the commune is like. Guess who pays for them as well?

      It’s something we should have straightened out years ago….but looked the other way instead.

      Meantime….there are lots of polygamous families in Canada….and the public is paying for it.

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