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

Walnut Grove’s Shawn Meehan (front) has started another band, Trigger Mafia. This local country rocker has put country on the shelf, and is going hard-core rock with this group, releasing their first single last Friday to radio. It started as a way to pass the time during the COVID lockdown, and evolved. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley musician drives rock revival with COVID twist

Trigger Mafia goes straight from the garage to radio with raw lyrics

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

A surveillance camera in a photo posted to the Project Iris page on surrey.rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
Quality surveillance video helps catch crooks, Surrey Mounties say

Charges laid in connection to break-and-enter in Guildford area

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Most Read