James Marion Oler, who is associated with Bountiful, is on trial for the alleged removal of a child from Canada.

Witness testifies on growing up in polygamous B.C. community

Women were expected to obey male priesthood heads and bear children, according to witness

A former member of a fundamentalist Mormon sect testified about life growing up in a polygamist community south of Creston in the trial of man charged with the alleged removal of a child from Canada in 2004.

“The only honourable way to leave the FLDS is to die and I’ve known that since I was a baby,” said a Crown witness, who asked not to be identified fearing reprisals from FLDS members.

She left the religion in seven years ago but still has family, including children, who remain in Bountiful.

“I knew there was no one in the world who could help me,” she said. “There wasn’t a lawyer, there wasn’t a policeman, there was no one that could help me leave Bountiful and still be able to have my children.”

Jim Oler, a former religious leader associated with Bountiful, is accused of removing his underage daughter from Canada in order to facilitate a marriage to an American member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in 2004.

The witness was born in community and raised in the FLDS doctrine, which included religious training in school, church and in the family home.

She said she was taught by religious leaders to fully obey the family priesthood head — her father as a girl, and her husband after she was married.

READ: Former Mormon fundamentalists testify in child bride trial

Women were taught that bearing children and living in plural marriages was essential to achieving the highest level of celestial glory. Disobedience could mean being branded a traitor against God by FLDS church leadership, put eternal salvation at risk and excommunication from the community, she said

Women are not allowed to keep money or own assets and require permission to go anywhere, which make moving on from the community and the religion difficult for those who want to leave.

The witness said a relative who left Bountiful struggled to adjust to the world outside the FLDS community because she had no financial resources, post-secondary education or formal work experience and job training.

The role of women and obedience in the FLDS is a key element to the Crown’s case.

In his opening statement, Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson said that Oler should have reasonably expected his daughter to be placed in a relationship of dependency that would facilitate sex offences.

Oler’s daughter, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was married to an American FLDS member when she was just a young teenager in 2004.

That marriage was documented by priesthood records kept by Warren Jeffs, the FLDS president and prophet. The records were seized after U.S. law enforcement raided the Yearning for Zion ranch in Texas a decade ago.

Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence in Texas for aggravated sexual assault of a child.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay SAR crews rescue injured mountain biker near Rossland

Crews were called in to help after the biker seriously injured himself at around noon Saturday

Suspected fentanyl and cocaine seized during RCMP search in Castlegar

Two men were taken into police custody during the search warrant

Truck thief runs out of gas, Nakusp man facing charges

Pickup stolen from Coldstream, found not far away

Morning start: This is the fastest growing city in the Kootenays

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Monday, May 25

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

Most Read