RCMP says Blackmore had 9 child brides

CTV, Canada/June 30, 2009

Polygamist Winston Blackmore had nine child brides, including four 15-year-olds, RCMP say in an affidavit filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

The child brides were identified for the first time in the affidavit. Two were 16-year-olds and another three were 17-year-olds.

Police also say in the affidavit that four of the girls had their first child before they turned 18, according to a list compiled by RCMP Const. Shelley Livingstone on Sept. 27, 2005.

The list was recently filed in court for a pretrial hearing.

Blackmore, a member of a polygamist sect in B.C., has had a total of 25 wives since 1976, according to police. The wives had 101 children.

He has been charged with one count of practicing polygamy, along with James Oler, who is the leader of a rival faction within the 1,000-person Bountiful sect, which is nestled in the rugged Kootenay region in B.C.'s interior.

On Tuesday, Blackmore, 52, denied he had married four different 15-year-olds. "That's wrong," he said.

While RCMP allege Blackmore had nine child brides, he has never been charged with sexual exploitation. The age of consent at the time of the marriages was 14. In 2008, Ottawa raised the age of consent to 16.

Although Blackmore has admitted to having multiple wives, his lawyers have said they intend to argue the ban on polygamy violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Preliminary hearings begin next April. But Blackmore's legal team is in court this week, trying to have the charge dismissed on a procedural issue.

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