Canada Backgrounder: Who are the players in the B.C. polygamy trial?

17:31  18 april  2017
17:31  18 april  2017 Source:   Vancouver Sun

Canada’s polygamy law will be tested in court for the first time in 127 years on an indictment with 24 women

  Canada’s polygamy law will be tested in court for the first time in 127 years on an indictment with 24 women The women listed on Winston Kaye Blackmore's indictment are alleged to have either been married in a religious ceremony or had conjugal relations with himIt’s almost certainly going to come down to a battle over religious freedom when Canada’s 127-year-old polygamy law is tried for the first time in Canadian history.

THE ACCUSED. Winston Blackmore, 61, Canada’s best-known polygamist , has publicly admitted to having multiple wives and many, many children. There are 24 women listed on his indictment. His father was one of the founders of the fundamentalist Mormon community that’s known as Bountiful.

Backgrounder : Who are the players in the B . C . polygamy trial ? Since elevated to Chief Justice of the B . C . Court of Appeal, Bauman also said it wrongly created a risk of the prosecution of children aged 12 through 17.

THE ACCUSED

Winston Blackmore, 61, Canada’s best-known polygamist, has publicly admitted to having multiple wives and many, many children. There are 24 women listed on his indictment.

Not guilty pleas entered in B.C. polygamy trial

  Not guilty pleas entered in B.C. polygamy trial CRANBROOK, B.C. - The trial of two men from a fundamentalist sect that condones plural marriage began with not guilty pleas being entered on charges of practising polygamy. The British Columbia Supreme Court criminal trial of Winston Blackmore and James Oler, who each face one count of polygamy, began in a Cranbrook court today, not far from their community of Bountiful in southeastern B.C. Oler, who is accused of having four wives, pleaded not guilty in court.Blackmore remained mute and Justice Sheri Ann Donegan said a not guilty plea would be entered on his behalf.

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Backgrounder : Who are the players in the polygamy trial ? He preached about “the Principle” of polygamy , reminding his followers that not one year should go by when children are not born into a polygamous marriage.

His father was one of the founders of the fundamentalist Mormon community that’s known as Bountiful. The community was founded so that its members could practise polygamy or what’s known as “The Principle of Celestial Marriage.”

Until 2002, Blackmore was the bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Bountiful, when he was excommunicated. Since then, he has led a breakaway faction with followers in both Canada and the U.S.

He was charged in 2009 with one count of polygamy, but that charge was stayed.

Blackmore unsuccessfully tried to have his group declared a commune for tax purposes, after the Canada Revenue Agency claimed he owed more than $1 million in back taxes.

James Marion Oler, 53, is also a former FLDS bishop of Bountiful and a son of one of the community’s founding fathers. There are four women named on his indictment.

Not guilty pleas entered in B.C. polygamy trial

  Not guilty pleas entered in B.C. polygamy trial The leader of a fundamentalist sect that condones plural marriage stood silently in a British Columbia courtroom Tuesday, hands clasped in front of a pressed black suit, as a B.C. Supreme Court judge asked how he would plead to a charge of polygamy. "The accused stands mute, my lady," Winston Blackmore's lawyer, Blair Suffredine, said after a moment of silence.

Blackmore is not the only Bountiful-area resident who has been charged. James Oler will face trial alongside Blackmore for allegedly marrying four Bountiful leader didn't get 'fair notice' polygamy is illegal: lawyer. Judge to rule in B . C . child bride case centred on sect's polygamous beliefs.

Player 's Own Voice. All Sports. The trial also heard from mainstream Mormon experts and law enforcement officials who worked on the case. B . C . polygamists , accused of taking child brides to U.S., face trial . B . C . polygamy evidence helps Warren Jeffs conviction.

Oler was working in Alberta when he was arrested in August 2014 and charged with one count of polygamy and one count of removing a child from Canada for unlawful purposes in 2004. He made no effort to defend himself on the removal charge that was heard in November. He was acquitted, although that is under appeal.

Oler has also refused legal counsel for this trial.

Along with Blackmore, Oler was charged in 2009 when the charges were stayed. But it was his father, Dalmon Oler, who was investigated in 1991 along with Blackmore. No charges resulted from that probe.

THE JUDGE

Sheri Donegan was appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court in 2013 after having served three years as a provincial court judge.

Before her appointment, Donegan was a prosecutor and known by her maiden name of Mark. Among the high-profile prosecutions she worked on was the horrific Allan Schoenborn case. Schoenborn was found guilty of murder, but not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

Same-day marriages with girls sharing same last name cited at polygamy trial

  Same-day marriages with girls sharing same last name cited at polygamy trial Dozens of marriage certificates, some referencing weddings taking place on the same day involving girls with the same last name, were entered as evidence Wednesday at the trial of two fundamentalist church leaders charged with polygamy in British Columbia.Winston Blackmore is the head of a religious group in Bountiful, a community in southeastern B.C. where residents are known for practising a faith that condones plural marriage.Blackmore is accused of marrying 24 women and is standing trial alongside former leader James Oler, who an indictment says has four wives.

Winston Blackmore is Canada’s most outspoken, prolific and unapologetic polygamist . His indictment lists 24 women as wives and he is known to have fathered 148 children, three of whom have been Listen to Daphne Bramham detail the upcoming verdict expected Monday in B . C .’s polygamy trial .

Their trials likely are months away. Their polygamist sect has been living in the southeast corner of The FLDS community of Bountiful, B . C ., is the “ polygamy capital of Canada” Sprungl, the incumbent who was re-elected, “knows or should know there’s a huge problem up here with this polygamy cult

He smothered his three children, ages 10, eight and five, and the 10-year-old girl had been struck repeatedly with a cleaver. The two boys were also strangled. Scrawled in blood and soy sauce on a wall were the messages “Forever Young” and “Gone to Neverland.”

Schoenborn’s defence lawyer was Peter Wilson.

THE PROSECUTORS

Peter Wilson is a well-respected defence lawyer who has done a number of high-profile criminal trials, including Schoenborn.

He was appointed special prosecutor in January 2012 after a constitutional reference case in B.C. Supreme Court, where it was determined that Canada’s polygamy law didn’t breach the Charter of Rights and Freedom’s provision of religious freedom.

In August 2014, Wilson laid charges against four people from Bountiful. The charges were unusual and rarely, if ever, prosecuted. James Marion Oler and Winston Blackmore were charged with one count each of polygamy.

Oler, Brandon James Blackmore, a cousin of Winston Blackmore, and Emily Gail Ruth Blackmore, Brandon’s wife, were charged with the unlawful removal of a child for illegal purposes. Oler was acquitted. The Blackmores are awaiting sentencing.

Winston Blackmore denied to police that he married a 15-year-old, court hears

  Winston Blackmore denied to police that he married a 15-year-old, court hears CRANBROOK — Winston Blackmore was front and centre Monday at a trial where he stands accused of one count of polygamy along with co-defendant James Oler. Both men are former bishops in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Blackmore wasn’t testifying. But in his videotaped interview with RCMP in 2009, which […]CRANBROOK — Winston Blackmore was front and centre Monday at a trial where he stands accused of one count of polygamy along with co-defendant James Oler.

Player 's Own Voice. All Sports. Radio. Three members of a B . C . polygamist sect are to go on trial in B . C . Supreme Court Tuesday for allegedly taking underage girls across B . C . polygamist linked to child bride, court told. Polygamy , child-related charges laid against sect members in Bountiful, B . C .

Read more:Long-awaited trial of accused B . C . polygamists Blackmore and Oler begins Tuesday. It heard from mainstream Mormon experts, law enforcement officers who worked on the investigation Crown spokesman Dan McLaughlin said the maximum sentence for a conviction of polygamy is five

Micah Rankin is assisting Wilson. Rankin is an associate professor of law at Thompson Rivers University, where he teaches constitutional law, evidence and criminal law. Among his colleagues is Craig Jones, who was the provincial government’s lead lawyer for the polygamy constitutional reference case.

Rankin articled with Joseph Arvay, who has been Winston Blackmore’s lawyer on several occasions.

Rankin has appeared several times before the Supreme Court of Canada and assisted Wilson both during the removal trial and in 2010-11. That’s when as special prosecutor Wilson investigated breaches of the Elections Act. Former B.C. solicitor-general Kash Heed was cleared of wrongdoing, but two others were charged with seven Elections Act offences and three criminal charges, including forgery and obstructing the RCMP.

Rankin’s grandfather was longtime Vancouver city councillor and lawyer Harry Rankin, who helped establish B.C.’s legal-aid system. His father is Vancouver lawyer Phil Rankin.

THE AMICUS

Joseph Doyle is a Vancouver trial lawyer appointed by the judge to act on the court’s behalf both in this trial and the previous removal trial after James Oler refused legal counsel.

As amicus, Doyle isn’t acting on Oler’s behalf, but as a “friend to the court.” His role is to help explain legal issues to the unrepresented defendant and also to provide legal advice to the court, including on issues of whether certain evidence should be admitted, legal precedents and sentencing. He also has the power to question witnesses.

Daphne Bramham: Two child brides gave birth at 16. So why wasn’t Blackmore charged with sexual exploitation?

  Daphne Bramham: Two child brides gave birth at 16. So why wasn’t Blackmore charged with sexual exploitation? Lead investigator tells polygamy trial he recommended the criminal charge but never did get an explanation from the Crown why it wasn't pursuedCRANBROOK, B.C. – It doesn’t matter that both Winston Blackmore and James Oler had child brides because that’s not what they’re on trial for.

Defence presents closing arguments in B . C . polygamy trial . Oler was appointed to lead the community after Blackmore's excommunication by church leader Warren Jeffs, who was based in the United States.

Player 's Own Voice. All Sports. Radio. Trial begins for B . C . polygamists accused of transporting minors. Polygamy , child-related charges laid against sect members in Bountiful, B . C .

THE DEFENCE LAWYER

Blair Suffredine practises law in Creston and is a former B.C. Liberal MLA who represented the Nelson-Creston riding from 2001 to ’05. He was the MLA when Suffredine first met Winston Blackmore.

Earlier this year, Suffredine told The Globe and Mail, “It might be that on the facts he (Blackmore) has breached that law, that could be the case, but he claims the right to practise his religion and the Charter protects his religion.”

Suffredine was also Blackmore’s lawyer in 2009, when he suggested that because same-sex marriage is legal in Canada, polygamy should also be allowed.

But it was Arvay who successfully argued that year that Blackmore’s polygamy charge should be stayed because the special prosecutor had been improperly appointed. It’s an argument Arvay made unsuccessfully last year when he tried to get the current charge dropped.

In 2009, Suffredine said that while he doesn’t personally support the practice of polygamy, he blamed the media for putting pressure on the government to enforce the polygamy law.

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Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

Polygamy trial now to include a constitutional challenge of the law .
Suddenly, the polygamy trial of two fundamentalist Mormon leaders was transformed Thursday from a criminal trial into a constitutional challenge involving religious freedom. CRANBROOK, B.C. — Suddenly, the polygamy trial of two fundamentalist Mormon leaders was transformed Thursday from a criminal trial into a constitutional challenge involving religious freedom.

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