Canadian polygamist found guilty in child bride case

CRANBROOK, British Columbia — A former leader in a fundamentalist Christian sect that practices polygamy in the Canadian province of British Columbia was found guilty Friday of taking an underage girl to be married in the United States.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin said it is reasonable to believe that James Oler knew the 15-year-old girl would be subject to sexual activity when he arranged her marriage to an older member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Oler was acquitted in 2017 by a judge who was not convinced he did anything within Canada's borders to arrange the girl's transfer to the U.S. But the British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned the decision and ordered a new trial.

Oler was self-represented and did not call any witnesses or make a case in his defense during the retrial.

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson said it should have been obvious that the girl would be made to have sex due to the nature of church doctrine and the disempowered role of women in the faith.

Oler originally stood trial alongside Emily Blackmore and her husband Brandon Blackmore. Both were convicted of taking a 13-year-old girl across the border to marry a member of the same sect.

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