Apr 28, 2017

Daphne Bramham: Former wife testifies against husband, brother in B.C. polygamy trial

Jane Blackmore, ex-wife of fundamentalist Mormon leader Winston Blackmore, is shown in an undated
Vancouver Sun
April 25, 2017

CRANBROOK, B.C. – Winston Blackmore already had 12 wives and 46 children and he didn’t seem to have any intention of stopping there.

That’s when his first and only legal wife, Jane Blackmore, confronted him.

“I did go to him and ask where are you taking this,” she testified Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court where Blackmore is facing a single count of polygamy.

“I told him I am feeling a heavy responsibility for the number of children we have and the number of women in this family that need care and support. I just felt a huge weight of responsibility for children and for them to get what they needed.”

When her husband told her he was doing God’s work, Jane said she replied: “I’m sorry I believe in a God that wouldn’t ask you to do something that was impossible.”

Winston insisted that he would lose his position as bishop if he didn’t accept all the wives being assigned to him by the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“I thought that was not a bad idea,” Jane said tartly during her testimony. “But he was unhappy with my confrontation.”

Winston Blackmore, 60, is alleged to now have had 24 wives and he’s said to have 145 children.

James Oler, 53, who is also being tried on one count of polygamy, has had five wives. It’s not clear how many children. Oler is Jane’s half-brother.

As a plural wife, sister-wife and midwife, Jane has a unique perspective on the fundamentalist Mormon community known as Bountiful, which she left in 2003. She divorced Winston two years later.

She testified that she was present for three of Blackmore’s marriages including the day that he married two sisters. One young woman had come to Canada with her sister from the “mother community” of Short Creek on the Utah-Arizona border knowing that she was to marry Winston.

But after the ceremony, FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs asked whether her sister was with her. When told that she was, Jane said that Jeffs told the witnesses present, “The Lord has just inspired me that she also should be married to Winston.”

And, a few minutes later, the sister was.

Jane was also a witness when Winston married another young American woman. It was the same day that their oldest daughter was married. Winston’s new bride and his daughter’s groom were sister and brother.

Jane said she expected that her husband would have multiple wives since it is a core principle of fundamentalist Mormon belief. Without plural or celestial wives, not only can men not hold the FLDS’s highest positions, the FLDS don’t believe that righteous men will be able “to become a God in their own right in the hereafter.”

In her testimony, Jane confirmed that all of the women listed on the two men’s indictments were their plural or “celestial” wives.

During her daylong testimony and cross-examination, Jane said she had attended the births of at least one child of each of Oler’s five wives – either as a nurse at Creston Valley hospital or as the busy midwife of Bountiful, where she delivered an average of 50 babies a year.

Earlier in the trial, birth certificates of one child for each of the women named on the two men’s indictments were entered as evidence. Their father’s names are on those documents.

Also in evidence are church marriage records that give the date and place as well as who officiated and who witnessed the ceremonies along with church’s personal records for Blackmore and some of his wives and for Oler and all of his wives.

The records indicated that two of Blackmore’s wives were only 15 when they were married and nearly half were under 18. At least two of Oler’s wives were under 18, according to Jane Blackmore.

But the wives’ ages aren’t relevant. The men are only be prosecuted for having multiple wives.

Also not relevant is the religious nature of the alleged marriages even though a great deal of court time has been devoted to the FLDS teaching. Neither Blackmore nor Oler will argue that it is their religious right to have multiple wives.

In fact, Oler doesn’t have legal counsel and isn’t expected to put up any defence at all.

Blackmore does have a lawyer, but his lawyer did not give notice that the constitutional validity of the Criminal Code’s polygamy section would be challenged.

The trial continues with the prosecution now expected to shift its focus to Oler.




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