The trio from Bountiful begin their trial today.

The trio from Bountiful begin their trial today.

Priesthood documents on teen marriages can be used in polygamy trial: judge

Marriage docs to be used in polygamy case: judge

CRANBROOK, B.C. — Documents admitted into court for three accused from a polygamous community in British Columbia allege the trio took two girls, aged 13 and 15, to the United States to marry elders of their fundamentalist church.

The priesthood records show that Warren Jeffs, the now imprisoned prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, married the 13-year-old girl in 2004.

Brandon Blackmore and Ruth Gail Blackmore are accused in B.C. Supreme Court of transporting the girl into the United States for a sexual purpose.

James Oler faces the same charge in connection to a 15-year-old who the records say was married to James Leroy Johnson in 2004.

Jeffs, now 60 years old, was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two girls he claimed were his so-called spiritual wives.

Justice Paul Pearlman ruled that the priesthood records dictated by Jeffs and found in a secure vault on a church ranch are trustworthy and can be used in the criminal trial of the three people from Bountiful, B.C.

“Priesthood records the Crown seeks to have admitted state that on Feb. 26, 2004, Warren Steed Jeffs, then the prophet and president of the FLDS Church, contacted Brandon Blackmore and informed him that (the 13-year-old girl) ‘belonged’ to Mr. Jeffs …,” says the written ruling released online Monday.

The Crown is trying to prove that Brandon Blackmore and James Oler acted on Jeffs’ instructions to bring the girls to the United States, Pearlman said.

The Crown conceded at trial that the documents were hearsay evidence, which are usually inadmissible, but that common-law business records are an exception, and the founders of the church were meticulous record keepers.

Pearlman noted that religious doctrine was essential for accurate record keeping and the court heard evidence that keeping a proper account of events is part of the church’s ideology because “what is not recorded on earth shall not be recorded in heaven.”

The court heard that the priesthood records were detailed dictations from Jeffs to his scribes and were far more than just an account of weddings, covenants and blessings received.

“These records contain Warren Jeffs’ personal accounts of his efforts to evade the American authorities and his understanding that marriage to a 13-year-old girl was likely to attract the attention of the Canadian and American authorities,” Pearlman says in the decision.

The lawyer for Brandon Blackmore, John Gustafson, argued that the records were prejudicial because Jeffs mixes his own activities with the business of the church, and that was compounded because Jeffs hasn’t been called to testify at the trial for the three accused.

The trial heard that Jeffs refused to speak with the RCMP, not even confirming his name when investigating officers tried to interview him in a U.S. prison.

“In short, Warren Jeffs demonstrated his determination to reveal nothing that might assist the Crown in prosecution of these charges,” Pearlman says.

The judge said Jeffs had no motive to fabricate the statements about instructing both Oler and Brandon Blackmore to remove the girls from Canada and bring them to him.

“It is apparent from the priesthood records that Mr. Jeffs was aware that he was engaging in illegal activity.”

While the judge didn’t allow all the priesthood records into evidence, he did rule several sections on Jeffs’ communications with Brandon Blackmore and James Older were admissible.

The judge-only trial is expected to wrap up next month.

 

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Supporters — and shoppers — lined up waiting at the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South, waiting for the doors to open on the store's first day of operations since the pandemic forced its closure. (Photo courtesy Kate Fox)
CHCA Thrift Store re-opens in Cranbrook

After a closure of 15 months, due to the pandemic, the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South has once again opened its doors for business.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Most Read