Verdict due for the B.C. men accused of having multiple wives

CRANBROOK, B.C. — A British Columbia judge is expected to issue her verdict today for two former religious leaders accused of one count each of polygamy.

Winston Blackmore is alleged to have married 24 women in the practise of “celestial” marriage, while the trial earlier this year heard that James Oler has five wives.

Both men are former bishops for a fundamentalist sect in the tiny southeastern B.C. community of Bountiful.

If Justice Sheri Ann Donegan finds Blackmore guilty, his lawyer Blair Suffredine has said he’ll launch a constitutional challenge to the validity of the polygamy laws.

The 12-day trial heard from mainstream Mormon experts, law enforcement who worked on the investigation and Jane Blackmore, a former wife of Winston Blackmore who left the community in 2003.

The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Utah, officially renounced polygamy in the late 19th century and disputes any connection to the fundamentalist group’s form of Mormonism.

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