Dec 9, 2016

Defence argues case against B.C. follower of polygamous sect is unproven

Vancouver Sun

CRANBROOK — The interpretation off fundamentalist Mormon records cast reasonable doubt on the whether a member of a polygamous community had the intent of taking his 14-year-old daughter to the U.S. for immediate marriage, a defence lawyer argued on Tuesday

Brandon Blackmore, Gail (Emily Ruth) Blackmore and James Oler are charged with removal of a child from Canada, under a criminal code subsection that their removal would facilitate sexual touching or sexual interference.

John Gustafson, who represents Brandon Blackmore, said a marriage of Blackmore’s daughter to Warren Jeffs, the leader and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), was not discussed in a phone call on Feb. 26, 2004.

“It would not be a natural assumption that marriage to a 14-year-old girl would happen right away,” said Gustafson, pointing to a FLDS priesthood record that described the phone call between Jeffs and Brandon Blackmore.

In that conversation, Jeffs told Blackmore that his daughter ‘belonged to me’ and that further discussion would occur when she and her father arrived in Short Creek, Utah, a few days later.

U.S. records show that Brandon Blackmore crossed into the U.S. a day after the phone call, however, there is no record of his 13-year-old daughter being with him.

FLDS marriage records indicate Blackmore’s daughter, who can’t be named under a publication ban, was married to Jeffs on March 1, 2004.

Gustafson argued further records from Jeffs describe a meeting between the two men that involved Blackmore receiving some training from the FLDS leader, where it is possible that he consented to the marriage.

But, if consent was given then, Gustafson argued, that meant the intent of the offence constituting sexual touching or interference, as a result of the marriage, was formed after the child was removed from Canada, and therefore shouldn’t be prosecuted in a Canadian court.

“You’re saying there’s no extraterritorial reach at all?” asked Justice Paul Pearlman.

“Absolutely,” said Gustafson.

Gustafson further suggested that by travelling across the border without his daughter, Brandon James Blackmore never formed the intent — while still in Canada — for the marriage to occur immediately after his arrival in Short Creek.

“In these circumstances, it would be an offence committed in the United States,” Gustafson said.

The indicatation that he crossed the border without his daughter is evidence that Brandon James Blackmore was defying or partly defying Jeffs’ order, the laywer argued.

The trial has heard that FLDS marriages are determined by the prophet, who decides which man and women will marry based on revelations from the Lord.

Brandon James Blackmore’s son, Brandon Seth Blackmore, testified he was summoned to Short Creek by a phone call from Jeffs in Feb. 2004. He found out he was to be married on the same day as the FLDS leader, and only learned the identity of his bride a few minutes before the ceremony.

That secretive behaviour by Jeffs was a pattern, said Gustafson.

Jeffs knew his marriage to Brandon Blackmore’s daughter would get the attention of the authorities.

“This event will hasten the persecutions against me and this people,” writes Jeffs in one of his priesthood records, “as the apostates in Canada will inform the authorities that (she) is not in her father’s home, assuming that she is with me.”

Joe Doyle, who is serving as amicus — a friend of the court — for James Oler and Emily Blackmore, will present his closing submissions on Wednesday morning.

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