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

Abbotsford Police close streets after reports of shots fired

Whatcom Road closed between Old Yale Road and Mountain Drive as APD investigates

Signs of support to be posted on grounds of local hospitals

Individuals can purchase signs through program of Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Abbotsford politicians and city staff to consider cash-flow questions, tax deferments

Mayor says it’s unclear how many residents and business owners will be able to pay taxes on time

Sex offender charged again less than two months after prison release

Taylor Dueck, who was living in Mission, has history of sex assaults in Abbotsford

Cop who lives in Mission awarded almost $3.2 million for 2 car crashes

Jeffery Neufeldt was injured on the job in collisions in 2013 and 2016

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

World COVID-19 updates: Putin may be exposed; 30,000 prisoners released

Comprehensive news update from around the world as of Tuesday, March 31.

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

‘This is no joke’: B.C. woman in Alberta hospital asks people to stay home during COVID-19

‘I want people to start listening to what the doctors are saying. This is no joke, please stay home’

Rest stops barring washroom access to truckers a ‘huge problem’ as COVID-19 spreads

Teamsters Canada says truckers are increasingly being denied warm meals

Canadians asked to wash mailboxes, keep dogs at bay, to ensure safe mail delivery

Four postal workers in Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 infection:

Hospitality workers hit ‘first and hit hardest,’ says union seeking more support

Union represents workers in hotels, casinos, airports, arenas, universities, schools and remote resource camps

South Surrey hikers discover decades-old campsite hidden in Golden Ears Park

Group reconnects with original campers through social media, returns log book

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Most Read