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

Just Posted

10th year for Great Naramata Cherry Pit Contest

The event is a fun-filled way to celebrate the local harvest

Man arrested in Kelowna following Shuswap vehicle thefts, pursuit

Suspect wanted in Alberta allegdly also stole several vehicles near Sicamous over the weekend

CFSOS wants to hear from community members in Keremeos, Cawston, Olalla and Hedley

Mobility talk will take place in Keremeos on July 24 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is predicting a 30 per cent chance of showers and a risk of thunderstorms this afternoon across the Okanagan

West Kelowna vet saves turtle from hook

Dr. Moshe Oz removed fish hook lodged in the turtle’s throat

Anglican Church to review governance structure after same-sex marriage change fails

Some say the current system to change doctrine gives too much voting power to a smaller class of bishops

B.C. adding fast-charge stations for electric highway trips

Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Kootenay stations ready for use

Comedian Gerry Dee ready to lighten things up at BC Hockey Hall of Fame

Canadian actor and stand-up comedian Gerry Dee is hosting the event in Penticton

Casa Loma residents petition to halt proposed Blackmun Bay project

West Kelowna City Council grants second reading for what would be the city’s largest development

The Okanagan’s master tailor from Chile

Sam Galvez started his business 6 years ago and hasn’t stopped loving it

Boat sails from trailer to pavement at Sicamous Highway 97A intersection

Alberta resident charged with transporting insecure load, failing to adequately connect trailer

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Collision with hydro pole cuts power to thousands in the Shuswap

Minor injuries to the driver were reported; power was restored by the following morning

Most Read