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

Ice Demons get an early start on the ice

The players are determined to score wins in this year’s league.

Focus groups important for age-friendly policy

These results will drive the age-friendly action plan

Is it a car? Is it a buggy? Yes, all of the above

Riverbank cleanup nets some odd items

CMTN unveils renovated House of Cedar

$18.4M upgrade and renovation cited as key to modern trades training

Mobile complaint team coming to B.C.’s northwest

Ombudsperson’s office wants to hear from wronged residents

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

‘Summer from hell’: vandals rob Fort St. James community garden following devastating wildfire season

The community rallied to keep the Health Minds Community Garden open in Fort St. James

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read