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

Kelowna RCMP search for missing senior

Cathy Wilson has dementia and was seen leaving her care facility in Rutland

Kelowna community bike ride raises $120,000 for charity

Money from the Payton & Dillon Budd Memorial Ride went to the Canadian Mental Health Association

More road closures planned due to construction in Kelowna

Hart Road and Grantham Road in Kelowna will be closed beginning Thursday

Okanagan College culinary students experience local Indigenous flavours

Traditional Okanagan-Syilx styles were taught by Westbank First Nation Elders

Multi-Generational Activity Centre is officially underway in Lake Country

Federal government provides an extra $585k to support the project

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

RCMP across Canada to soon unionize, according to B.C. mayor

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Missing and murdered Indigenous women remembered at Okanagan rally

Red Dress campaign honours the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Driver has $240K McLaren impounded minutes after buying it in West Vancouver

Officers clocked the car travelling at 160 km/h along Highway 1 in a 90 km/h zone

Public tip leads to seizure of drugs and weapons in North Okanagan

Concerned citizen spots male sleeping in car in residential area

Still months of investigation left into South Okanagan murders

Penticton came to a standstill on April 15, when John Brittain allegedly shot and killed four people

Most Read