Prosecutor wraps up case in Bountiful child bride trial

A man is on trial for the alleged removal of his daughter into the U.S. to marry an American man

Crown lawyers wrapped up a case against a man associated wit the polygamous community of Bountiful who is charged with the removal of a child from Canada on Monday in Cranbrook.

James Marion Oler is accused of allegedly bringing his underage daughter from the Creston area into the United States to marry an American fundamentalist Mormon in June 2004.

The charge was filed under a Criminal Code subsection that the removal would facilitate sex offences by Oler’s daughter being placed in a relationship of authority or dependency.

Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson said Crown doesn’t have to prove that sexual activity took place between Oler’s daughter and her husband, but that the removal was done with the intention that it would occur.

“The Crown only has to prove, that at some point during the unfolding of the events, that the accused intended or subjectively foresaw that [Oler’s daughter] would be subject to sexual contact,” said Wilson.

READ: Witness testifies on growing up in polygamous B.C. community

Wilson walked through the Crown’s evidence establishing that Oler’s daughter was born in the Creston Valley hospital and pointed to a decade of school attendance records at Bountiful up to February 2004.

Witness testimony also places Oler’s daughter in Bountiful four days before her wedding to James Leroy Johnson, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

The wedding was ordered by Warren Jeffs, the FLDS president and prophet who arranged marriages for church members based on divine revelation.

According to church records seized by U.S. law enforcement a decade ago at an American FLDS community, Jeffs called Oler on June 23, 2004, and ordered him to bring his daughter into the United States to be married.

Three days later, she was wedded in one of 18 FLDS ceremonies that occurred in a hotel room in Mesquite, NV.

A witness, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was also married that same day in one of the ceremonies.

She travelled to the United States the day before the wedding, crossing the Canadian border south of Creston in a van with her parents.

Shortly after entering northern Idaho, the van pulled over at a rest stop and the witness went into the woods to relieve herself. When she returned from the forest, a second van containing Oler and his daughter had arrived.

Everyone transferred into the newly arrived van and left for Utah except for for one man who remained behind.

Wilson also argued that Oler should have known his daughter would be subject to sexual activity following her marriage based on the very nature of FLDS doctrine and the role of women in the faith.

During the trial, former FLDS members testified they were taught that obedience to the priesthoood head — the father or husband of the family unit — was a divine directive.

Men were anointed into various levels of the priesthood, while women were taught to fully submit to their husbands and girls to obey their fathers. Refusal to obey carried consequences, such as removal from the community or a religious threat of damnation.

Women do not have financial assets, own personal vehicles and need permission from their priesthood heads to travel or pursue post-secondary education, according to former FLDS members. They were taught that their role within the FLDS religion was to be a celestial wife in polygamous marriages and to bear children.

This is the second time Oler is being tried on the child removal charge, after he was acquitted in Cranbrook Supreme Court two years ago. Crown successfully challenged the trial judge’s decision at the B.C. Court of Appeal, which ordered a new trial last year.

Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore, who were two co-accused in the first trial, were found guilty and sentenced to 12 months and seven months in jail, respectively.

Oler, who is self-represented, did not call any witnesses or mount a legal defence. However, Joe Doyle, who is serving as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial, will present his closing arguments on Tuesday.



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 woman deals with break-in after flooding forces her from home

Thief, who is known to her, now taunting her by text

Finishing touches being applied to new downtown Market

Official grand opening will be on March 28 as excitement builds

Wonderettes bring the fun while belting out the hits

Four-part harmonies in Chemainus Theatre production sure to be music to your ears

Midget Cougars go down swinging against powerful Salt Spring

Star player O’Dell finishes the season without committing a single foul

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Most Read