A culture of isolation and distrust of outsiders, along with blind obedience to religious polygamist doctrine enabled the marriage of two underage children to men in the United States in 2004, argued a special prosecutor in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Monday.
Crown counsel Peter Wilson closed his final submissions to Justice Paul Pearlman in the trial of James Oler, Brandon James Blackmore and Gail [Emily Ruth] Blackmore, who are facing child trafficking charges for allegedly removing two underage children from Canada in 2004 and married to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) in the U.S.
The charges, the removal of a child from Canada under a criminal code subsection that their removal would facilitate sexual touching or sexual interference, were sworn in 2014 after approval from Wilson, who was appointed by the provincial government to prosecute the trial.
Throughout his argument, Wilson pointed to the culture of the FLDS, as the men — ‘the priesthood heads’ — and women were subservient to husbands and fathers for all aspects of family life, finances and even marital relations.
FLDS doctrine teaches women that their role is to serve their husbands and have children, which are inhabited by celestial spirits at conception.
Disobeying orders from the priesthood head could mean excommunication and the fears of damnation.
“The evidence before you proves the roles of husbands and wives in the FLDS are very clearly defined,” said Wilson. “Wives are to submit to their husbands and bear children.”
It is common sense, Wilson added, that the accused knew their daughters’ marriages would be consummated shortly after their wedding ceremonies.
Brandon James Blackmore’s daughter was married to FLDS leader Warren Jeffs on March 1, 2004, following his orders a few days earlier.
“Thursday morning I called Brandon Blackmore and told him…the Lord had revealed that his 13-year-old daughter belonged to me and we would discuss that when he brought her down south sometime Friday,” reads one of Jeffs’ priesthood records dated Feb. 27, 2004.
The next day, Brandon James Blackmore entered Idaho at the Rykerts/Porthill border crossing south of Creston, according to U.S. Customs records.
The wedding of his daughter to Warren Jeffs on March 1, 2004, is confirmed by FLDS marriage records and lists him as a witness to the ceremony.
His presence in the U.S. was confirmed in testimony by his son, Brandon Seth Blackmore, who had been ordered down to Short Creek, Utah, where he found out he was to be married to Rosemaria Johnson.
In the indictment of James Oler, Jeffs ordered him to bring his daughter to the U.S. to be married to James Leroy Johnson on June 23, 2004.
Two days later, she was married in one of 18 ceremonies conducted in a single day in Mesquite, Nevada, according to a marriage record. Again, James Oler is listed as a witness.
Wilson pointed to testimony from one of Brandon Blackmore’s daughters, whose name is under publication ban, who confirmed that she drove down to Cedar City with James Oler and his daughter.
“The direction from Warren Jeffs to James Oler was carried out by the letter,” said Wilson.
Defence counsel John Gustafson, who is representing Brandon James Blackmore, will argue his closing submissions on Tuesday. James Oler and Gail Blackmore are self-represented and have not participated in the trial process.