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

Ocean Boulevard could open after Labour Day

Colwood council expected to discuss options later this month

Sidney can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

CAO says municipality lacks legislative authority to enforce social distancing in public

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Racism in B.C. healthcare: Deadline for First Nations survey coming up on Aug. 6

Survey comes after hospital staff allegedly played a blood alcohol guessing game

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Most Read