Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore (left) had her appeal of a guilty verdict in removing an underage child from Canada for a sexual purpose dismissed. The Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for James Oler (right), who was also charged with the same offence, but had been acquitted. (Black Press files)

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

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

The BC Court of Appeal has given Crown a chance to try James Oler again in his child bride case while denying Emily Blackmore’s appeal of her guilty verdict.

In a decision handed down Tuesday morning, the three-judge panel said the trial judge who acquitted Oler in 2017 erred in his interpretation of the law.

Oler and Blackmore are both part of a polygamous sect in Bountiful in southeastern B.C.

READ MORE: Convicted Bountiful polygamists unrepentant: court documents

Oler was charged under a subsection of the Criminal Code that forbids removing a child from Canada for the purpose of sexual interference or sexual touching.

In the original trial, the judge found there was no record of Oler being in Canada at the time he decided or acted to bring his underage daughter to Nevada to marry her to a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints member in 2004.

The judge found that reason enough to not convict Oler in the 2017 trial.

“I conclude the acquittal turned entirely on the judge’s view of the need for proof of James Oler’s physical presence in Canada,” wrote Justice Mary Saunders.

Oler’s daughter was 15 when she was married to “James Leroy Johnson,” with Oler standing as a witness.

READ MORE: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

At the appeal hearing in June, special prosecutor Peter Wilson had argued it did not matter if Oler was in Canada at the time when he initiated taking his daughter to the U.S.

Although Saunders accepted that, she found it was necessary for Crown to prove that Oler’s daughter had been in Canada at the time.

“Because the judge did not turn his mind to that issue, it is not open to us to substitute a guilty verdict as sought by the Crown,” she said.

Also on Tuesday, the panel denied Emily Blackmore’s appeal of her conviction on the same charge of removing her daughter from Canada for a sexual purpose.

READ MORE: Polygamous wife appeals conviction in B.C. child bride case

During her appeal hearing in June, lawyer Greg DelBigio argued the trial judge had made a “leap of faith” in assuming Blackmore both knew and helped her husband take their underage daughter over the border to marry her off.

Blackmore’s daughter was 13 when she was married to FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in 2004, shortly after being taken to the U.S. Blackmore stood as one of the witnesses to the wedding.

DelBigio had argued her mere presence in the vehicle that transported her daughter, herself and her husband, James Blackmore, was not enough to prove guilt.

However, in her written reasons, Saunders said the importance of marriage and procreation in the Bountiful culture, and Blackmore’s role and responsibility as a mother, made it impossible to assume she was an unwitting participant.

“I observe there is no evidence that young unmarried girls were called to Warren Jeffs’ presence absent a conjugal reason,” wrote Saunders.

“It is plain that the evidence offers no other reasonable inference than Blackmore’s presence in the car would be both encouraging to her husband… and reassuring to her daughter.”

Blackmore is currently serving a seven-month sentence for the offence.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Haida artist Derek Edenshaw helps Rupert spruce up city

A giant kraken, painted by local artists under Edenshaw’s tutelage, is now on display

Haida Gwaii teacher denied paid bereavement travel leave

Arbitrator sides with B.C. Teachers Federation in dispute over funeral trip

Skeena mainstem closed to recreational sockeye

Escapements expected to be below 800,000 threshold

Rainbow Yarnbombing takes over

Haida Gwaii Knitting Group surprise the islands

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

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

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read