CRANBROOK, B.C. — The B.C. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision today in the case of a former leader in a fundamentalist Christian sect that practises polygamy in Bountiful, B.C.
James Oler is accused of removing an underage girl from Canada to marry a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which operates in British Columbia and the United States.
He was acquitted in 2017 by a judge who was not convinced Oler did anything within Canada’s borders to arrange the girl’s transfer to the U.S., but the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed with the Crown that proof of wrongdoing in Canada was not necessary and ordered a new trial.
Oler is self-represented and did not call any witnesses or make a case in his defence.
Joe Doyle, who is serving as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial, argued that a four-day gap in the whereabouts of the 15-year-old girl is enough to dispute whether she was removed from Canada in 2004 or was already in the United States.
The special Crown prosecutor argued that Oler should have known the girl would be subject to sexual activity following her marriage based on the nature of church doctrine and the role of women in the faith.
Women do not have financial assets and need permission to travel or pursue post-secondary education, former church members told the court. They were taught that their role within the religion was to be a celestial wife in polygamous marriages and to bear children.
The Canadian Press