James Marion Oler, who is associated with the polygamist community of Bountiful in southeastern B.C., is charged with the alleged removal of a child from Canada. Townsman file photo

Judge admits contested documents into B.C. child bride trial

Crown prosecutors sought the admission of fundamentalist Mormon records into child removal case

A judge ruled that contested documentary evidence is admissible in the trial of a man connected with a B.C. polygamist community who is charged with removing a child from Canada to marry an American religious fundamentalist.

In Cranbrook Supreme Court, Justice Martha Devlin sided with the Crown’s application to admit two types of records seized at a fundamentalist Mormon compound in Texas a decade ago into the trial of James Marion Oler.

Oler, who is associated with Bountiful, is charged with allegedly removing a child from Canada under a Criminal Code subsection that the removal would facilitate sex crimes.

“I preface my remarks by reminding everyone that I’m only dealing with the admissibility of the documents at this point,” Devlin said, “and not with respect to their ultimate reliability and weight that should be attached or attributed to them at the conclusion of the trial.”

The documents consist of marriage and priesthood records kept by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), which listed marriages between church members while other records feature teachings, instructions, and sermons by Warren Jeffs, the FLDS leader and prophet.

READ: Crown argues evidence admissibility in child bride case

It was gathered by U.S. law enforcement when a search warrant was executed at the Yearning for Zion ranch in 2008. Records were kept in secure vaults inside a religious temple and an adjacent temple annex building, according to testimony by Nick Hanna, a Texas Ranger who helped catalogue the evidence.

The priesthood records include audio dictations by Jeffs, who used a handheld voice recorder to record his teachings as well as his activities and instructions to other FLDS members, according to testimony from earlier witnesses associated with the fundamentalist Mormon church.

One priesthood record describes the phone call that Jeffs made to Oler on June 23, 2004, ordering him to bring the child to the United States to be married. Another record contains a list of 18 FLDS weddings, one of which was the child’s marriage to an American man.

Crown lawyer Micah Rankin and Joe Doyle, who was appointed as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial, earlier sparred over the legitimacy of the records. Rankin argued the records were made in the usual and ordinary course of business as directed by religious doctrine, while Doyle questioned the validity of some of the documentation.

The trial will continue with further witness testimony over the next two days, with closing arguments expected next week.

This is the second criminal proceeding of the same child removal charge for Oler.

He was acquitted following the first trial in 2017, however, Crown successfully overturned that ruling in the B.C. Court of Appeal, which awarded a new trial last year.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Volunteer Cowichan encouraging anyone in need to reach out

Programs available for seniors but also others in the community who need support

MacGregor addresses federal response to COVID-19

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP spoke to constituents via Facebook

Getting the runaround on reporting quarantine violation

Non-actions speak louder than words during COVID-19 pandemic

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

Long list of events disrupted by COVID-19 around the community

Challenging situation affecting fundraisers, entertainment, sports and more

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

Most Read