The Ministry of Justice is seeking an appeal of a recent acquittal for a Bountiful man charged with child trafficking offences.
James Oler was recently acquitted from an alleged unlawful removal of a child from canada offence following an eight-day trial in Cranbrook Supreme Court last fall. Two others — Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore — were found guilty.
Justice Paul Pearlman presided over the trial and delivered his decision on Feb. 3, 2017, in Cranbrook.
The charges stemmed from incidents in 2004 where their underage daughters were taken from Bountiful, a small community south of Creston, and married to men in the United States.
Much of the trial focused on the religious doctrine and teachings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), which established the Bountiful community decades ago.
The appeal was filed by Peter Wilson, a special prosecutor who led the case for the Criminal Justice Branch and approved the charge in August 2014. Wilson is seeking a ruling that the acquittal be set aside, a conviction be substituted as originally charged or, in the alternative, a new trial ordered.
According to a press release from the Ministry, Wilson has reviewed the decision of the court and is satisfied that the judgment reveals errors of law, a reasonable argument can be made that the verdict of acquittal would not necessarily have been the same if the errors were not made and that public interest requires an appeal.
According to Pearlman’s decision, Oler was acquitted because there was no evidence he was in Canada when FLDS leader Warren Jeffs ordered him to bring his daughter, who had been living in Bountiful in 2004, to be married to another FLDS member in the U.S.
Specifically, Wilson argues that there doesn’t need to be direct proof that Oler physically removed his daughter from Canada and that the acquittal draws a speculative inference that Oler wasn’t in Canada during the commission of the offence without any supporting evidence.
Oler will return to Cranbrook Supreme Court in April along with Bountiful leader Winston Blackmore, as both will be going to trial for a polygamy charge.