A former polygamist leader has been found guilty of having 25 wives at the same time. Sixty-year-old Winston Blackmore was found guilty on Monday of polygamy in Cranbrook, British Columbia. This conviction comes after decades of legal fight.
According to Time, Blackmore has never denied that he has many wives. Instead, he pointed it to his religious belief for "celestial" marriages. "I'm guilty of living my religion and that's all I'm saying today because I've never denied that," Blackmore told the media after the verdict. "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."
According to the Vancouver Sun, Blackmore has fathered 145 children.
In addition to Blackmore, another former leader, 53-year-old James Oler, was also found guilty of polygamy. As Time shares, he is married to five women. Both are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. NBC News reports that Blackmore, known as "the Bishop of Bountiful," ran an independent sect of about 400 members in the town of Bountiful. He also once ran the Canadian arm of the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The investigation into Blackmore and Oler began in the 1990s. The men were arrested in 2009. The drawn out process has involved larger questions about whether polygamy is protected under Canadian laws as a religious right. In 2011, the court ruled that laws banning the practice are valid.
Each man faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The two will be sentenced at a later date.
[Photo: NBC News]