Crown prosecutors recommend a jail term of up to two years for James Oler, a former leader of Bountiful who was convicted of remvoving a child from Canada to facilitate sexual offences in the United States.

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

A special prosecutor is recommending up to two years in prison for a former leader of Bountiful convicted of removing a child from Canada to marry a fundamentalist Mormon church member in the U.S. in 2004.

Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson noted that as a bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Oler is culpable for facilitating the directive of church leader and prophet Warren Jeffs, who ordered him to bring the underage child to the U.S. to be married 15 years ago.

Wilson said aggravating sentencing factors against Oler included his daughter’s age at the time, his position of trust as a father and his position as a bishop and religious authority in the community.

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

“He occupied the highest priesthood office in the community of Bountiful because he was the bishop and that office made him directly answerable to Warren Jeffs,” said Wilson, in front of Justice Martha Devlin in Cranbrook Supreme Court.

During Oler’s trial, FLDS church records seized by American law enforcement indicated that Jeffs called Oler on June 23, 2004, and ordered him to bring his 15-year-old daughter to the United States to be married.

A trial witness, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was also named by Jeffs in the directive to come to the U.S. and be married.

The witness testified she travelled to the United States with her parents on June 24, 2004, crossing into Idaho at the Porthill crossing south of Creston and pulling into a rest area shortly after. She went into the woods to relieve herself, and when she returned, another van containing Oler and his daughter had arrived.

All but one piled into the newly arrived van and headed to Cedar City, UT, and later to Mesquite, NV.

FLDS records indicate a list of 18 marriages on June 25th, as the witness, Oler’s daughter, and Oler himself were all married in separate ceremonies.

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

Wilson also suggested that Devlin could excercise her discretion to consider Oler’s conduct in the removal of the trial witness even though she wasn’t included in his indictment.

“It’s my submission that no unfairness to Mr. Oler will result in the event you choose to exercise your discretion to consider his role in the removal of [the witness] from Canada,” Wilson argued.

However, Devlin questioned whether she could be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Oler was guilty of all the same elements of the child removal offence involving the trial witness, given that Oler may not have known she was 16 years of age at the time.

Joe Doyle, who is serving as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial, suggested a sentencing range between six to 18 months in jail, drawing parallels to an earlier ruling against Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore.

They were convicted and sentenced for the same child removal charge after being ordered to bring their 13-year-old daughter to marry Jeffs in March 2004. Brandon James Blackmore was sentenced to 12 months in jail, while Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore was given a seven-month jail term.

Oler, however, was acquitted because the presiding judge was unable to determine, based on the trial evidence, whether he ‘did anything’ to remove his daughter from Canada. The acquittal was successfully challenged by the Crown and a new trial was ordered by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Devlin found Oler guilty of the child removal charge in a new trial that was held in Cranbrook earlier this year. A date for sentencing has been tentatively set for Aug. 29.

Oler is currently living in isolation in Alberta after being stripped of his bishop’s appointment and excommunicated from the Bountiful community nearly a decade ago for participating in legal proceedings examining the constitutionality of Canada’s polygamy laws.

He was also charged and convicted of polygamy alongside Bountiful leader Winston Blackmore and sentenced to three months house arrest in 2018.



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

Comox Valley artist expands horizons through North Island College’s DIGITAL Design department

Submitted by NIC North Island College alumna Marlee Pestell is breaking into… Continue reading

85-year-old Comox sprinter competes in worldwide virtual track meet

Toronto was slated to be the host city for the 2020 World… Continue reading

City of Courtenay 2019 annual report available for review

The City of Courtenay has released the draft 2019 Annual Report highlighting… Continue reading

Scaled-down Comox Valley Exhibition set for Aug. 28-30

The Comox Valley Exhibition is a go for 2020. The annual event… Continue reading

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Pay cuts, seating charts, COVID screening: How one B.C. venue is bringing back concerts

A growing number of bars and restaurants are welcoming back musicians under COVID-19 precautions

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Police find used, uncapped needle tied to handrail in Vancouver Island Park

Officers believe the needle was put there with the intent to harm someone

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

Most Read