April 18, 2017 9:11 am
Updated: April 18, 2017 11:21 pm

2 men from Bountiful polygamist community enter not guilty pleas in court

WATCH: Two men accused of having multiple wives have gone on trial, the first time in 127 years that Canada’s polygamy laws have been challenged. As Ted Chernecki reports, the result could have widespread consequences.

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A trial for two men charged in connection with a decades-long battle over a B.C. polygamist community began in Cranbrook today.

Winston Blackmore is accused of having two dozen wives over a 25-year period.

James Oler will face trial alongside Blackmore for allegedly marrying four women.

WATCH: Canada’s polygamy laws are on trial

Both have entered not guilty pleas in the case.

At the start of the trial, an application was made to be tried separately but Judge Sheri Ann Donegan of the B.C. Supreme Court rejected the application, saying a “substantial overlap” in evidence between them means it is in the public’s best interest for the two to be tried together.

The legal battle dates back to the early 1990s when police first looked into allegations people in the religious community of Bountiful were practising multiple marriages.

In February, Brandon Blackmore and his former wife Emily Gail Blackmore were found guilty of taking a 13-year-old girl to the United States to be a child bride. James Oler was also facing charges but he was found not guilty in this case.

-With files from The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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