Group calls on Crown to drop polygamy charges

Vancouver, Canada - A civil liberties watchdog group is calling on the Crown to immediately drop polygamy charges against the leaders of a B. C. religious sect.

The B. C. Civil Liberties Association says it has long been concerned about allegations of child abuse associated with the practice of polygamy and urged police to lay appropriate charges if there is any evidence of abuse.

But it says the 1892 law the two men have been charged under violates the religious freedom of responsible adults who have made relationship choices that alarm other Canadians.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler, leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Bountiful, B. C., were charged last month.

Fifty-two-year-old Blackmore is accused of having 19 wives and 44-year-old Oler, two.