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

Langley volleyball player helps secure bronze in Puerto Rico

Women medal at NORCECA, while men’s team is playing the worlds in Hiroshima, Japan

LETTER: Fort Langley festival reminds us to be thankful

Heartfelt thanks go out to event organizers

VIDEO: Thanksgiving Day crash in Langley sent a few to hospital

UPDATE: No one believed seriously injured in head-on accident at 232nd Street and Fraser: Mounties

ON COOKING: Embrace the experience, from beginning to end

A passion for cooking can easily be rekindled according to this chef and culinary instructor

Langley pioneers remember heritage buildings

Ahead of November’s Douglas Day banquet, Fred Pepin speaks to importance of preserving local history

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

VIDEO: Townhouse fourth Maple Ridge blaze in less than a day

UPDATE: Fire victims have much to be thankful for, despite loss of pets on Thanksgiving Day

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Most Read