Four people from an isolated religious community in Bountiful, B.C., appeared in court in Creston Thursday to face charges relating to polygamy and moving underage girls across the Canada-U.S. border.

Winston Kaye Blackmore, one of two men charged with polygamy, is said to have so many wives that he can't always recount their names. The indictment against him alleges he has 24.

His brother-in-law, James Marion Oler, is also charged with polygamy, for allegedly taking four wives between 1993 and 2009.

Winston Blackmore, Oct. 9, 2014

Winston Blackmore appeared outside the courthouse in Creston, B.C., on Oct. 9, 2014 along with a number of his daughters, who came to support him. (CBC)

Blackmore and Oler are leaders of two factions of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). 

Oler and two others, Blackmore's son Brandon James Blackmore and his wife, Emily Ruth Crossfield, also face a charge of unlawfully removing a child under 16 from Canada with the intent that an offence of a sexual nature would be committed outside Canada.

Those charges have a direct connection to U.S. polygamous leader Warren Jeffs, who was sentenced to life in prison for similar crimes.


Winston Blackmore, the religious leader of the polygamous community of Bountiful near Creston, B.C., is shown in 2011, leaving the then newly built community centre. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

This is not the first time B.C. has tried to press for polygamy convictions. However, it was only in 2011 that a B.C. Supreme Court ruled that although Canada's polygamy laws are unconstitutional, the harm of polygamy outweighs the value of religious freedom.

Many residents of Bountiful follow the FLDS, which, unlike the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, holds polygamy as a tenet of the faith.

The three men and

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating