Dec 8, 2016

No evidence to convict woman in polygamous child brides case, B.C. court hears

Winter at Bountiful

Vancouver Sun

December 7, 2016

CRANBROOK — A judge says he will deliver his verdict on Feb. 3 in the case of three people from a polygamous community in British Columbia who are charged with removing girls from Canada for a sexual purpose.

Justice Paul Pearlman of the B.C. Supreme Court reserved his decision after hearing from an impartial legal adviser in the case today.

Joe Doyle argued there’s nothing that shows Gail Blackmore aided or abetted in the removal of a 13-year-old girl from Canada.

She and her estranged husband Brandon Blackmore are both alleged to have taken the teenage girl to the United States in 2004 to marry Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the polygamous sect who is now in prison.

Doyle was appointed as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, because Gail Blackmore and co-accused James Oler have chosen to represent themselves.

Oler faces the same charges as the Blackmores, but in connection to the marriage of a 15-year-old girl to another church member in the United States in June 2004.

Doyle’s role is not to act as legal counsel to the pair, but to assist the court and provide balance in the trial.

“It cannot be said, ultimately, that Gail Blackmore did anything but passively acquiesce at best,” Doyle told Pearlman, who heard the case without a jury.

Doyle said that while there is a record that Brandon Blackmore was instructed by Jeffs to bring the girl to the U.S., there is no such information about Gail Blackmore.

“There’s not a hint (Jeffs) spoke to Gail Blackmore,” Doyle said.

He also highlighted inconsistencies in priesthood records kept by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

He told Pearlman that while those records are admissible, they are not as reliable as the Crown contends.

He added there is no customs record that the 13-year-old actually crossed the border in the same vehicle as the Blackmores in February 2004 and raised doubts that officers at the border would overlook her presence.

All three accused have been members of the religious sect in Bountiful, where some residents practise plural marriage.

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