Winston Blackmore told police he didn’t know wife was 15 years old: trial

Accused in polygamy trial didn't know wife was 15

CRANBROOK, B.C. — The trial of a British Columbia religious leader charged with polygamy heard Monday that the accused told police he didn’t know a teenage girl’s true age when he married her.

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. James Oler, a former leader in Bountiful, is also on trial and is accused of having four wives.

In video played at the B.C. Supreme Court trial in Cranbrook, a police officer asks Blackmore about a television appearance where the religious leader admits he married one of his wives when she was 15 years old.

Blackmore responds by saying the girl’s parents lied to him, telling him she was 16.

The footage presented by the prosecution shows Blackmore expressing fears about incriminating himself because his lawyer isn’t present, but he does not deny practising polygamy.

Many people would be jealous of a family like his, Blackmore tells the officer.

“I am who I am. I’ve never denied that,” he is heard saying in the video.

The polygamy trial began a week ago, hearing from an expert on the history of the Mormon church, who explained how the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints broke away from mainstream Mormonism at the turn of the 20th century.

Both Blackmore and Oler served as bishops for the Bountiful congregation of the so-called FLDS.

The court also heard last week from a Texas Ranger involved in seizing hundreds of boxes of documents from a ranch owned by the FLDS in 2008.

Dozens of marriage and birth certificates have been entered into evidence at the trial.

The criminal trial has been more than 25 years in the making, with RCMP first investigating allegations that residents of the isolated, religious community were practising plural or “celestial” marriage in the early 1990s.

The trial is being heard by a judge alone and is expected to last at least two weeks. Norma Jean Blackmore, who is Blackmore’s first wife and Oler’s sister, is expected to testify on Tuesday. (Cranbrook Townsman)

Trevor Crawley, Cranbrook Townsman, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Penticton Lakers curling team headed to high school provincials

Penticton Secondary School Lakers boys curling team will represent the zone at provincials

Premium electric rate for home-based businesses

After more than three decades, home businesses pay the same power rate as other Penticton residents

Penticton cyclist takes city to court over injuries

The man claims a depression in the road caused a crash, resulting in rib and facial fractures

Slayer adds Penticton to North American tour

Slayer adds the South Okanagan Events Centre as a stop on their last world tour

Tagger causes $30,000 damage

Penticton looking for help finding person responsible for graffiti

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Three sisters will curl together as Team B.C. at Tournament of Hearts

Nanaimo’s Kesa, Marika and Kalia Van Osch, along with teammate Amy Gibson, start play Jan. 27

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

Team chaplain reflects on time with Silverbacks

Kenny Toews served as a mentor and spiritual leader to the team for six seasons

Drawings connect autistic student with the world

Leifen Mitchell-Banks creates colourful cartoon characters at Salmon Arm Secondary.

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

10 Safeways in Lower Mainland to close, union says

Locations in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, Richmond and Mission slated to shut

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Most Read