James Oler enters the Cranbrook Law Courts in Cranbrook on Friday, May 17. He is charged with the removal of a child from Canada under a subsection that the removal would facilitate sexual activity.

Former polygamous leader to be sentenced next week in B.C. child bride case

James Oler to return to Cranbrook Supreme Court on Monday; crown to present sentencing options

A religious fundamentalist convicted of removing a child from Canada in order to facilitate sexual offences will return to Cranbrook Supreme Court for a sentencing hearing next week.

James Marion Oler, who is associated with the polygamous community of Bountiful south of Creston, was found guilty of removing his daughter from Canada to marry a fundamentalist Mormon man in Nevada in 2004.

The marriage was ordered by Warren Jeffs, the leader and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), who is currently serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for sex crimes against children.

Oler was found guilty by Justice Martha Devlin earlier in May. The maximum punishment is a five-year jail term, according to the Criminal Code of Canada.

READ MORE: Former polygamous leader found guilty of removing a child from Canada

At Monday’s sentencing hearing, Crown will present its case for an appropriate sentence, while Oler will have the opportunity to do the same.

During the trial, Crown submitted religious records indicating that Jeffs had contacted Oler in a phone call on June 23, 2004, and told him to bring his 15-year-old daughter to the U.S. to be married. The records were seized in 2008 at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, after U.S. law enforcement executed a search warrant on the compound.

A trial witness, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified she travelled across the border on June 24, 2004, with her parents en route to the same Nevada location for her own FLDS marriage as ordered by Jeffs.

After crossing the Porthill border port south of Creston, the van she was travelling in soon pulled over to a highway rest area in northern Idaho and she went to relieve herself in the woods. When she came out of the trees, another van containing Oler and his daughter had arrived at the rest area.

Everybody, except for one, piled into the newly arrived van and continued on to Cedar City, UT, and eventually, to Mesquite, NV.

On June 25, 2004, there were 18 marriages noted in the FLDS records, which included separate ceremonies for the witness, Oler’s daughter, and Oler himself.

Further documentation submitted by the crown showed that Oler’s daughter gave birth just over a year after the marriage when she was 17 years old.

It was Oler’s second trial on the child removal charge; he was acquitted in the first trial proceedings in 2017 after the judge found reasonable doubt that Oler did anything to remove his daughter from Canada. However, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and awarded a new trial after a legal challenge from the Crown.

In all circumstances, Oler was self represented, but didn’t participate in the legal process. However, an amicus curiae — a friend of the court appointed by a judge — was present to ensure fair trial proceedings.

The Crown’s case was led by Peter Wilson, a special prosecutor appointed by the provincial government in 2012.

Two co-accused in the child removal matter, Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore, were found guilty of the same offence and sentenced to 12 months and seven months jail terms, respectively.

Oler, a former FLDS bishop of Bountiful, was kicked out of the community following his involvement in polygamy proceedings a decade ago in Vancouver. He assumed the bishop role after Winston Blackmore, the bishop before his appointment, was excommunicated following a a power struggle against Jeffs for church leadership.

Though serving a life sentence, Jeffs remains the leader and prophet of the FLDS church.

Oler was also charged and found guilty of polygamy alongside Blackmore in 2017 after nearly three decades of police investigations and litigation involving members of the Bountiful community. Following the polygamy conviction, Oler was sentenced to three months house arrest.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

MEI Eagles senior boys three-peat as Trinity volleyball champs

Third consecutive win for team, MEI wins top overall school at Langley event

Man pepper-sprayed and arrested near railroad tracks in Abbotsford

Police and fire crews called to incident at Marshall and Riverside

UPDATE: Highway now open after several hour closure at Herrling Island

Westbound traffic is stopped, and some cars have been seen driving the wrong way on the highway

Rainbow crosswalk plan gets council support in Hope

Council writing letter of support to community group for crosswalk project

Abbotsford MP Ed Fast shares stroke-recovery story

Fast to speak at open house on Thursday, Sept. 19

Shambhala named best music festival in North America

Shambhala Music Festival is held at the Salmo River Ranch in B.C.

‘What goes up will come down’: Gas prices spike in Metro Vancouver

Petroleum analyst Dan McTeague says prices will fall Thursday

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

B.C. Interior caribou protection area big enough, minister says

Proposals sparked protest in Kootenays, Williams Lake region

Two B.C. women selected to compete on ABC’s The Bachelor

Mykenna Dorn and Alexis Thind will compete for bachelor Peter Weber’s heart

Most Read