Jim Oler (front) walks towards the Cranbrook Law Courts building. (Trevor Crawley/Cranbrook Townsman)

New trial in B.C. child bride case underway

James Marion Oler back in court after crown lawyers successfully appealed earlier acquittal decision

A new trial is underway for a former leader of a polygamous community near Creston charged with removing his underage daughter from Canada to marry an American man in 2004.

James Marion Oler, a fundamentalist Mormon leader associated with Bountiful, was previously acquitted of the same charge following a trial in 2017, however, the acquittal was successfully overturned by Crown prosecutors in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The appeal court awarded a new trial, which began in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Monday in front of Justice Martha Devlin.

READ: New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson and Micah Rankin are leading the case for the Crown, while Oler is self-represented. However, Joe Doyle, who served as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial during the first proceedings, has returned to serve in the same role.

Witnesses called include Nick Hanna, a Texas Ranger who was part of an investigative team that seized documents and evidence from the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) ranch over six days in April 2008.

The compound, near Eldorado, Texas, consisted of members associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), an off-shoot of the mainstream Mormon faith that practices polygamy.

READ: Two of three people found guilty in B.C. child bride case

Hanna testified on the nature of the evidence collected by investigators in the compound’s temple vault and temple annex vault that included items such as marriage and priesthood records, photo albums, computers, and thumb drives.

Texas rangers executed a search warrant at the YFZ ranch on the evening of April 3, 2008, with Hanna as one of the investigators who served as evidence custodian.

A temple vault that took a locksmith 24 continuous hours to crack was eventually opened, while a vault inside a nearby temple annex was accessed by drilling through the concrete side.

Among the records seized included a record of marriage between Oler’s daughter, whose identity is protected by a publicatoin ban, and James Leroy Johnson.

Crown expects to call other witnesses such as experts in mainstream Mormon and fundamentalist Mormon doctrine, as well as RCMP investigators who assisted American police authorities.

William Jessop, the former bishop of prominent FLDS communities on the border of Arizona and Utah collectively known as Short Creek, will testify in the coming days.

David Allred, an American citizen considered to be a part of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs’ inner circle, was expected to participate in the proceedings, however, Crown said Allred recently announced he had changed his mind and would not testify.

Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore were prosecuted on the same offence alongside Oler, however, they were found guilty and sentenced to 12 months and seven months, respectively, in jail.

In an unrelated matter, Oler was also convicted of polygmay alongside Winston Blackmore last year and sentenced to three months house arrest — a sentence he has already completed, but remains on probation.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce champions unique staff housing solution

“It was a win-win situation for all of us.”

Tofino mayor cheers provincial government’s plastics survey

Mayors of Tofino, Victoria, Squamish and Rossland collaborate on letter.

Youth lead Ucluelet Cemetery nameplate project

Students navigate maps and scour local archives over three years to honour deceased.

Tofino awards $2.4M contract to connect path to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The district announced the project will be paid entirely with grants.

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Vancouver Island RCMP hunt for man after pair of indecent exposure incidents

Elderly Qualicum Beach woman grabbed by man who had been masturbating in the woods

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ at Vancouver Island industrial site

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Pregnant teachers fight to change WorkSafeBC compensation rules

Agency does not recognize risk to unborn babies when mother catches illness from work

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Most Read