James Marion Oler is charged with the alleged removal of a child from Canada that facilitated a marriage between his underage daughter and an American religious fundamentalist.

James Marion Oler is charged with the alleged removal of a child from Canada that facilitated a marriage between his underage daughter and an American religious fundamentalist.

Bountiful, B.C., child bride trial wraps up in Cranbrook

Decision set for June in the case of a man who allegedly took his daughter to the U.S. to be married

A four-day gap in the whereabouts of a Bountiful man’s underage daughter is enough to dispute whether she was removed from Canada 15 years ago, argued a lawyer in the trial of a fundamentalist Mormon in Cranbrook Supreme Court.

James Marion Oler, a religious leader associated with a polygamous community south of Creston, is charged with allegedly removing his daughter from Canada under a subsection that the removal would facilitate sex crimes.

Oler’s daughter was married to an American member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Nevada on June 25, 2004, according to religious records seized by U.S. law enforcement in 2008.

Joe Doyle, who is serving as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial, said that Crown prosecutors haven’t proved that Oler’s daughter was in Canada when Warren Jeffs, a fundamentalist Mormon leader, called her father on June 23, 2004, and ordered him to bring his daughter for her to get married.

“Where is the evidence that she was in Canada on June 23?” asked Doyle.

READ: Prosecutor wraps up case in child bride trial

Doyle argued that prosecutors hadn’t accounted for that four-day window where Oler’s daughter was last seen in Bountiful on June 19, but then identified by a witness four days later in Northern Idaho at a highway rest stop on June 24, 2004.

The witness, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified that she travelled from Bountiful across the Porthill border crossing with her parents and stopped at a rest area just off the highway. She went into the woods to relieve herself, and when she came back out, another van containing Oler and his daughter, among others, had arrived.

Everyone except for one person climbed into the newly arrived van and headed to Cedar City, UT, and the next day, to Mesquite, NV, where Oler’s daughter was married in one of 18 FLDS wedding ceremonies.

Doyle took issue with that four-day window, alleging that there was no evidence of Oler’s daughter’s whereabouts in Canada and also raised the possibility that Oler and his daughter were potentially already in the United States visiting other FLDS communities collectively known as Short Creek when Jeffs called Oler with his directive.

In response, special prosecutor Peter Wilson said that evidence showed Oler’s daughter was born in the Creston Valley hospital and recorded in biannual attendance records from a Bountiful school up to February 2004.

Given that a witness identified Oler and his daughter on June 24th, 2004, in northern Idaho — four days after she was last seen in Bountiful — Wilson questioned Doyle’s suggestion that she may have already been in the United States in that four-day window when Jeffs called her father with his marrige orders.

“It makes much more sense that she lived in Canada all her life and travelled from Canada to that arranged rendezvous with other people we knew were also in Canada,” said Wilson, “instead of postulating that maybe Mr. Oler went south and maybe she went south, then they came back to Canada almost, then they drove back to Utah.”

“So I submit, that for you to find that something like that happened is just fanciful. Maybe it did — anything can happen. But if what Mr. Doyle suggests actually happened here, then it deserves its own chapter in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.”

Doyle’s closing arguments also attacked the credibility of the FLDS records seized by American law enforcement a decade ago at the Yearning for Zion ranch, a fundamentalist Mormon compound in Texas.

Some of the FLDS documentation did not match mainstream Mormon record-keeping practices, were incomplete and were uncertified, which is contrary to the religious doctrine.

“What is not known about these records and is still not known…is which person or persons prepared them, when were they prepared, what information led to their preparation and where that information came from,” said Doyle. “You have no evidence that helps you with that.”

He also took issue with one of the witnesses who gave a second statement to RCMP with additional information after the first child removal trial that resulted in convictions for two co-accused. Doyle alleged that the witness was coached by an RCMP investigator before going on-record with her second police statement.

Justice Martha Devlin has reserved her decision, but tentatively scheduled a ruling in Cranbrook Supreme Court for June 24, 2019.

Wilson summarized the evidence and rested the Crown’s case on Monday. Oler, who is self-represented, did not call any witnesses or make a case in his defence.

This is the second time Oler has been on trial for a child removal charge.

He was tried with two other co-accused, Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore, who were found guilty in 2017 and sentenced to 12 months and seven months, respectively, in jail.

Oler, however, was acquitted after the first trial judge concluded there was reasonable doubt that he ‘did anything’ in Canada for the purpose of removing his daughter from the country.



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

Road improvements in Sooke are nearing completion . (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Sooke road work nears completion

Projects part of $5.7 million in improvements

A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Victoria shovels free home-made compost out to gardeners

Ideal for prepping food gardens, the compost, mulch and wood chips will be at city parks for pick up

New programs and services aimed at helping the unhoused find shelter or housing in Victoria, and to take advantage of support services of various kinds, could be funded if a City of Victoria grant application is successful. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria seeks $3M to $4M in grant funds to enhance community services for unhoused population

Various supports, services for unhoused population part of broad-based funding application

Victoria Police Department seized a replica firearm during an early morning call to the 100-block of Gorge Road East on April 11. (VicPD handout)
Victoria police seize replica firearm in early Sunday morning call

Officers called to temporary housing facility in 100-block of Gorge Road East

Vaisakhi normally would have volunteers like these women (in Surrey from a past year) preparing food ahead of the festival to be given out to the hundreds of thousands of spectactors. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria Sikhs observe Vaisakhi virtually, but find a way to give out food

Food and taking care of those in need is a big part of Sikh teachings

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read