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Families, supporters of convicted Canadian polygamist Winston Blackmore believe he did nothing wrong

Published July 25, 2017 4:53 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Hours after Winston Blackmore was convicted of polygamy, some of his daughters changed their Facebook profile pictures.

The new pictures showed the women posing with their father. The accompanying posts let the Canadian government and detractors of Blackmore and polygamy know there is still support for both.

"Every blessing in this picture was possible because of plural marriage and the good Lord," Dollie Blackmore Roundy wrote in a caption for her new Facebook profile picture. The photo included herself, Blackmore, one of her sisters and a niece.



"Never has my dad denied it, never has he been ashamed of it, and never has there been a need for either because we're all proud of each other. I'm proud of my father and my family and no guilty conviction, or amount of 'experts', who have no idea, trying to rescue me from my 'brainwashed background' can change one bit of that."

Blackmore, 61, and another man, James Oler, 53, were convicted Monday in a court in Cranbrook, British Columbia, of one count of polygamy. Each man now faces up to five years in prison, though there will likely be an appeal hearing before a sentence is issued.

Both men are former Canadian bishops in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is headquartered on the Utah-Arizona line. The reaction extended into Utah on Tuesday.

Richard Nielsen is a trustee in the Church and Kingdom of God, based in Bluffdale, and which has so-called fundamentalist Mormon beliefs, including a belief in polygamy. Nielsen has only one wife, and says he wouldn't tell anyone if he had a second because he's worried he would be prosecuted for polygamy.

Nielsen knows Blackmore and has family in Canada. The conviction there, he said Tuesday, may just help drive polygamy further underground in both countries.

"I'm surprised that [Canada] would try and prosecute him period," Nielsen said in an interview. "It doesn't make any sense to me. Someone with more smarts than me will have to explain it to me."

Canadian prosecutors did what the Utah Attorney General's Office and county attorneys in Utah have said they will not do — prosecute polygamists for polygamy alone. Utah prosecutors have said they are concerned with polygamous households that have violence or fraud.

But Nielsen is worried those policies can change at anytime.

"The door's left wide open with Utah," Nielsen said.

Oler was accused of having five wives. Blackmore, according to press reports from Canada on Monday, has 25 wives and 148 children.

Nancy Mereska, founder of the Stop Polygamy in Canada Society, cheered the verdicts and hopes it will deter people from entering plural marriage.

She hopes that deterrence will be international and encourage prosecutions in the United States and other countries.

"This is a bell tone that will be rung throughout the world," Mereska said Tuesday.

In Utah, the Sound Choices Coalition, which seeks to dissuade people from joining plural marriages, applauded the verdicts. The coalition's statement also encouraged authorities to resume investigating Blackmore for any crimes related to marrying teens.

Blackmore has acknowledged such marriages, but said the girls were within the age of consent.

"It is intolerable that children should be abused in this way in the name of 'freedom of religion," the statement from Sound Choices Coalition said.

Zelpha Chatwin, who grew up on the Utah-Arizona line and is one of Blackmore's wives, on Tuesday said Canadians are good people, but they have let fear and the acts of a few men form biases.

In an electronic message to The Salt Lake Tribune, she suggested Canadians are hung up on the sex that occurs between a man and his plural wives and don't appreciate how the household works together to accomplish goals.

"Our hope with appealing Winston's case, is we will be able to put a fair and better light on polygamy," she wrote, "so that all those in the western world who choose to live this lifestyle, because it is either their sexual orientation, religious belief, or out of sheer necessity, can do so with out fear of prosecution."

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle

 

 

 

 

 

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