‘Not guilty’ pleas for two accused in polygamy trial
CRANBROOK, BRITISH COLUMBIA | The trial of two Canadian men from a fundamentalist sect that allows men to have multiple wives opened Tuesday with not guilty pleas being entered.
Winston Blackmore and James Oler each face one count of polygamy. Both men were bishops in a religious settlement that follows the teachings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the FLDS. Mr. Oler is accused of having four wives. Mr. Blackmore is accused of marrying 24.
Mr. Blackmore’s lawyer said his client chose to say nothing for religious reasons. “He doesn’t want to deny his faith. He doesn’t feel guilty,” Blair Suffredine said. “The technical way around that is don’t say anything, and they’ll enter the plea [of] not guilty.”
FLDS members practice polygamy in arranged marriages, a tradition tied to the early theology of the Mormon church. The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints renounced polygamy in 1890, but several fundamentalist groups seceded in order to continue the practice.