Aug 2, 2016

Canada's biggest polygamist says he doesn't favor legalizing polygamy

Salt Lake Tribune

Nate Carlisle

Aug 02 2016


The Canadian government is prosecuting him for polygamy.

"And those suckers are after me day and night," Winston Blackmore told an audience Friday in Salt Lake City. "I'm going to have to go another round with them."

Blackmore has married 27 women and has 145 children. Yet Blackmore told the Sunstone Salt Lake Symposium he doesn't favor the legalization of polygamy. He said he fears legalization would lead to the exploitation of women.

That isn't necessarily a contradiction. Polygamists in Utah, for example, have pushed to amend the state's bigamy statute so there's no criminal penalties for polygamy. They typically have not sought legal recognition of those plural marriages.

Blackmore, 59, was the bishop for the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a community within Lister, British Columbia, known as Bountiful. In 2002, the Jeffs family ousted Blackmore. In what residents there refer to as "The Split," many of Blackmore's parishioners followed him out of the FLDS. He still acts as a bishop to those who follow him. Blackmore spoke to Sunstone about his family history.

Toward the end of his lecture, Blackmore addressed the legal action Canada has taken against him. He was arrested in 2007 — handcuffed in front of his children, he said — on a charge of polygamy. A court later dismissed the case over concerns of how the special prosecutor was selected.

"I beat 'em the first round for prosecutor shopping," Blackmore said.

A polygamy charge was filed again in 2014. There is no trail date yet.

Blackmore contended Friday that Canada has changed the definition of common-law marriages in order to prosecute him. He said that he and his wives have officially declared themselves "friends."

"And yet they still charge us with polygamy," Blackmore said.

Blackmore told the audience that he never courted any of his wives. He described women, including one of his wives in the audience Friday, Edith Barlow, approaching him about becoming his wife.

After his lecture, I approached Blackmore to ask him a few questions about his criminal case and the United Effort Plan — the land trust controlled by the state of Utah that owns the land Blackmore lives on in Canada. I also asked Blackmore why I haven't been able to get him on the phone in recent years. We used to have a working cell phone on file for him at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Blackmore said that because of his criminal case he has "been muzzled" by his attorney.

Just then, polygamist Tom Green walked up to us.

"I'm muzzled, too, Winston," Green said. "At my parole hearing, the guy told me, 'If I see you on TV again I'm going to send you back to prison.'"

Green was convicted in 2001 and 2002 of bigamy, criminal nonsupport and child rape for fathering a child with Kunz Green, his stepdaughter, when she was 13. Green was paroled in 2007.


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