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. File photo.

Former polygamist leader sentenced 12 months jail in B.C. child bride case

James Oler was sentenced for his role in facilitating an underage marriage in the U.S. in 2004

A convicted polygamist leader associated with Bountiful has been sentenced to 12 months in jail for his role in removing a child from Canada to marry an American Mormon fundamentalist in 2004.

James Marion Oler did not react as Justice Martha Devlin imposed the sentence in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Thursday morning. Before the ruling, he addressed the court by thanking staff, lawyers and the judge for their kindness and respect while also reciting a poem his daughter had given him.

The sentencing concludes a legal process that began five years ago when he was charged with the removal of a child from Canada under a criminal code subsection that the removal would facilitate sex offences.

READ: Former polygamist leader guilty of removing a child from Canada

He was also charged and eventually convicted of polygamy alongside Bountiful leader Winston Blackmore last year.

In her sentencing, Justice Devlin said she considered factors such as the nature of the crime itself, the abuse of Oler’s position as a trusted authority figure and the impact his role had on others.

“Mr. Oler was in a position of trust with his young daughter,” Deviln said. “He abused that. In her sheltered, cloistered world, he was the only person she could rely on for security and protection. He knew under the FLDS doctrine, she was expected to obey him as both the father and priesthood head. Rather than protecting his own child from sexual contact, Mr. Oler deliberately placed her in a situation where that contact was inevitable and expected.”

Justice Devlin also noted mitigating factors such as a clean criminal record prior to the polygamy conviction and that he acted on sincerely held religious beliefs rather than being motivated by money or sexual gratification.

Oler, a former bishop of a polygamous community south of Creston, was ordered to bring his daughter to the United States by Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), in June 2004.

According to FLDS records seized by law enforcement in 2008 at an FLDS compound in Texas, Jeffs contacted Oler by telephone on June 23, 2004, and told him to bring his daughter to be married.

A trial witness, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified she travelled to the United States in a van with her parents at the Porthill crossing south of Creston on June 24, 2004.

Shortly after crossing, the van pulled over to a rest area, where she went into the woods to relieve herself. After returning to the van, another vehicle had pulled in containing Oler and his daughter.

Everyone except for one person piled into the newly arrived van and headed to Mesquite, Nevada.

There, 18 marriage ceremonies were recorded into FLDS documents, including Oler’s daughter into a polygamous marriage, while the trial witness, who was 16 years old at the time, was also married to an FLDS member decades older than her.

Oler himself was also married in a polygamous union during the same day.

Justice Devlin rejected a bid by the Crown asking her to exercise her discretion in considering the removal of the trial witness as a sentencing factor even though Oler was not charged for it. She cited a failure by the Crown to prove that Oler knew the precise age of the witness before her removal from Canada.

Oler was found guilty of the child removal charge earlier this year after he was acquitted in the first trial proceedings alongside two co-accused, however, the Crown successfully challenged the acquittal in the B.C. Court of Appeal, which awarded a new trial.

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

Oler, 55, had been living in isolation in Alberta working as a mechanic. He was reportedly kicked out of the Bountiful community for participating in legal proceedings that examined the constitutionality of polygamy nearly a decade ago.



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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Mission’s Walker signed by B.C. Lions

Former Roadrunner, Langley Ram standout signed by CFL club

Time capsule discovered, opened at Mission elementary school

Capsule opened in front of students from West Heights Community School

How would crowded Fraser Valley hospitals deal with patient surge? Officials won’t say

Amid coronavirus case and crowding issues, health officials won’t say where more patients would go

Sasquatch Mountain Aussie Day celebration raises $800

Proceeds of bikini runs, toonie tosses and more go to wildfire victims

Salvation Army kettle campaign raises $121,000 in Abbotsford

Christmas fundraising up $20,000 over previous year

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Surrey massage therapist suspended for reading books on cellphone during treatments

Investigation sparked by patient who was concerned she’d been photographed

‘Very disrespectful’: Headstones at Okanagan cemetery damaged by excavation crew

Headstones at Enderby’s Cliffside Cemetery mistakenly driven over by excavation crew

Despite reports of decline, birds flocking to national parks in Canadian Rockies

Recent studies suggest overall bird population has slid by three billion since 1970

Former UN committee member defends stance on B.C.’s Coastal GasLink pipeline

First Nations LNG Alliance accused UN committee, human rights watchdog of not doing their research

Police release photo of suspect in theft of Indigenous regalia in Vancouver

A person stole nine pieces of Indigenous regalia, five drums, and traditional boots

Opioid crisis to blame for shorter life expectancy in B.C. men, says Stats Can

Opioid crisis held responsible for declining life expectancy

Earthquake on top of highway closure a wake up call for Island’s West Coast

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Most Read