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

Highway 97 has reopened after single-vehicle incident

UPDATE (1:47 p.m.): The highway has reopened. CLEAR - #BCHwy97 at #BegbieSummit… Continue reading

McAbee Fossil Beds site ready to reopen to the public

Site was taken over by the Province and closed to the public in July 2012

Open houses will give residents chance to voice views on new Eco-Depot

TNRD will be answering questions, soliciting feedback about Ashcroft/Cache Creek Eco-Depot

BC Hydro scam targeting local businesses

Scammer claims to be on his way to businesses to cut the power unless payment is made

Ashcroft Village Council highlights

Dog park discussion, grant approval, Canada Day celebrations and more

VIDEO: 5 of the best fathers in film

From Finding Nemo to Taken, here are some great on-screen dads

Victoria man wins record-breaking Human Rights Tribunal case

After 14 years Chris Hughes won a case after facing discrimination for depression

Toronto Raptors and their diverse team celebrated worldwide

Team is made up of players from the U.S., Canada, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Spain

B.C. RCMP launches pilot to test reporting non-serious crimes online

Four cities will soon be able to report theft under $5,000, lost of stolen items to police online

Trial begins in case of young Canadian couple killed in 1987

William Earl Talbott II was arrested last year and charged with aggravated murder

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody, 6 months since release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

Pot edibles, topicals and extracts to hit shelves no earlier than mid-December: Ottawa

Health Canada wrapped its public consultation on the draft rules for cannabis products in February

B.C. woman fighting to block coroner’s report detailing husband’s death

Fears revealing exactly how Ben Kilmer took his life will have traumatic effect on her two children

Most Read