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

Just Posted

Nisga’a leader named UNBC chancellor

Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell is the first Indigenous leader to assume the role

A medical first saved Ryan Jones’ life

The 25-year-old Smithers man is almost fully recovered after being effectively dead.

Steelheads recruiting event shows promise

A small but enthusiastic group of organizers is hoping to put a Smithers team back in the CIHL

Fletcher disregards facts on climate action

Letter writer Macrae says inaction jeopardizes jobs

Open letter to the minister of education on school violence

Dear Minister Flemming, On May 24 of last year I had the… Continue reading

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Can you put your phone down for Mother’s Day?

#DiningMode campaign encourages people to leave the phone alone while eating

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

SPCA investigating after newborn kittens found in Vancouver dumpster

The kittens were found suffering from hypothermia and dehydration

Judge rejects hunter’s bid to get back a sheep shot in northern B.C.

Despite expert testimony, judgement says ram probably underage

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Most Read