Two Canadian former leaders of a radical offshoot of the Mormon church were convicted of polygamy Monday.
Former leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), James Oler and Winston Blackmore, were convicted of polygamy by the British Columbia Supreme Court (BCSC), according to the New York Post.
Blackmore was confirmed to have 25 wives, while Oler had five, all of whom they considered “celestial brides,” according to FLDS belief. Blackmore and Oler formerly led the Canadian branch of FLDS, a radical cult led by American Lyle Jeffs, who is currently imprisoned in Texas.
“I’m guilty of living my religion and that’s all I’m saying today because I’ve never denied that,” Blackmore said. “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.”
Blackmore was open about his practice of polygamy throughout the investigation, according to Justice Sheri Ann Donegan.
“He spoke openly about his practice of polygamy,” Donegan said. “Mr. Blackmore confirmed that all of his marriages were celestial marriages in accordance with FLDS rules and practices.”
Blackmore is expected to challenge Canada’s polygamy laws, according to his lawyer, but will likely fail that endeavor. The BCSC ruled Canada’s polygamy laws valid in 2011.
Monday’s verdict ended a decades’ long prosecution against Blackmore and Oler, who were first prosecuted for polygamy in the early 1990s. Warren Jeffs, alleged prophet and former leader of the FLDS, excommunicated Blackmore in 2002 and appointed Oler to replace him.
Blackmore and Oler each face a maximum of five years in prison according to Canadian law.
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