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Winston Blackmore polygamy charge upheld by B.C. Supreme Court

06/25/2015 02:01 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
The leader of a British Columbia polygamous sect has lost his attempt in the province's Supreme Court to have the polygamy charge against him quashed, his lawyer has confirmed.

Winston Blackmore asked the court earlier this month to dismiss the 2014 criminal charge against him, arguing it must be thrown out on a legal technicality.

His lawyer Joe Arvay argued that the provincial government doesn't have the right to criminally charge his client — or any resident of the Bountiful commune — for historical acts of polygamy, because he wasn't given "fair notice."

The cutoff point, said Arvay, should be a 2011 reference question that concluded polygamy laws did not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That decision provided constitutional clarity to Canadians involved in the controversial practice.

Arvay also argued that Blackmore's polygamy charge should be quashed because the government acted improperly by appointing successive prosecutors until it got the recommendation it wanted.

Blackmore is one of four people facing charges related to polygamy from the southeastern B.C. community. Blackmore was accused of marrying 24 women, while James Oler was accused marrying four woman,

Two other people, Blackmore's older brother Brandon James Blackmore and his wife Emily Ruth Crossfield, were charged with polygamy and unlawfully removing a child from Canada for sexual purposes.

Blackmore and James Oler became leaders of separate factions in the community of Bountiful, in the province's southern Interior, when the religious community split a decade ago.

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