Nov 29, 2016

More details come out in B.C. trial of parents accused of forcing daughters into polygamous marriages


Daphne Bramham

November 28, 2016

CRANBROOK – The trial of three parents from the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful charged with taking their daughters aged 13 and 15 to the United States in 2004 to be child brides lurched into its second week Monday.

James Oler and Emily Gail Blackmore, who have elected not to have legal counsel, maintained their silence, while lawyers argued whether their neither agreeing nor opposing documentary evidence from a closed-door hearing going into evidence could be construed as consent.

The pair have said nothing at either the two-week voir dire nor at the trial that is now in its second week. Even though they face up to 10 years in jail if they are found guilty of removing their daughters from Canada for sexual purposes, they haven’t questioned witnesses, raised objections or even appeared to be paying much attention to the proceedings.

Brandon James Blackmore – Gail’s husband – is also charged. He wasn’t in court Monday. His lawyer, John Gustafson, told the judge that his client is in hospital in Creston.

Eventually, Justice Paul Pearlman ruled that all of it would be rolled into the trial and not re-heard.

Some of the evidence – particularly the diaries of Warren Jeffs, the convicted pedophile prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – is stunning and chilling.

“I called Jim Oler last night and told him to bring his daughter . . . for her to get married, that Jim Oler would receive a wife, that Brandon Blackmore and his son Zane should come and receive training and that Brandon’s daughter . . . should come and be married that they should wait in Cedar City, Friday morning until I called,” Jeffs’s diary for March 2004.

After Jeffs, then 49, had married the Blackmores’ 13-year-old daughter, his diary records: “I then discussed the marriage of his [Blackmore’s] young daughter to me, that it was the will of the Lord. I asked him to bring his wife and daughter at 1 p.m. He gave full submission and determination to me and to the Lord to submit and do the Lord’s will.”

The diary entry goes on: “I counseled with James Oler, he counseled with me after that wedding [Brandon Seth’s] in private and I told him I gave Brandon Blackmore a partial training on the places of refuge [where the fugitive Jeffs was hiding from U.S. authorities] and we discussed the log lathe he was building out of a metal lathe, that it would be ready. “

Despite his involvement in the March marriages, Oler is charged with taking his 15-year-old daughter to Mesquite, Nev. in June 2004.

Eighteen marriages were performed in one day. Apparently that call was made because the next day, Jeffs’s diary includes a list of 18 marriages performed in back-to-back ceremonies every 20 minutes or so.

At 1:23 p.m., Oler’s 15-year-old daughter was married to a much-married, much older James Leroy Johnson. At 1:34 p.m., James Oler, then 40, married a 15-year-old American girl – his second wife in six months.

At 1:45 p.m., Oler witnessed a second, teenaged daughter marry 67-year-old Frederick Merril Jessop.

The trial continues with the cross-examination of Crown witness Esther Palmer, who was married at 16. The midwife was ex-communicated by Jeffs in 2012 and forced out of Bountiful.

Forced out, she now only has contact with two of her nine children. One of her daughters who remains with the FLDS was in the courtroom Monday wearing the distinctive pioneer-styled dress and a swoop hairdo.


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