Two members associated with the polygamous community of Bountiful have been sentenced to prison terms for their role in removing their underage daughter from Canada to marry a religious mormon fundamentalist leader in the United States.
Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore were sentenced by Justice Paul Pearlman to 12 months and seven months, respectively, along with 18 months probation following their prison terms.
Both were charged with the removal of a child from Canada under a criminal code subsection that the removal would facilitate sex offences following the marriage of their 13-year-old daughter to Warren Jeffs, the leader and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the United States in 2004.
Sentencing in child removal case for former couple associated with Bountiful about to begin in Cranbrook Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/Km2ZZ92BRs— Trevor Crawley (@tcrawls) August 11, 2017
The courtroom, full of supporters dressed in traditional clothing worn by members of the FLDS, audibly gasped when Pearlman misspoke and said seven years instead of seven months for Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore. One woman stormed out of the courtroom in anger, before Pearlman clarified his error following his remarks.
Another woman also attempted to address the judge, but was denied.
“Everybody happy? I’ll bet you are,” said Brandon Blackmore, after he was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by the BC Sheriff Service
The removal of a child from Canada charge was approved against Brandon Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore by Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson in 2014. A third co-accused, James Marion Oler, was acquitted after the trial process, however, Wilson has announced his intent to launch an appeal.
The charge stems from an order from Jeffs on Feb. 26, 2004, who called Blackmore and told him that “the Lord had revealed that his 13-year-old daughter belonged to me and we would discuss that when he brought her down south…” according to an entry into a priesthood record seized by US law enforcement at an FLDS compound in Texas and submitted as evidence.
FLDS marriage records also collected from the same seizure indicate Jeffs and Blackmore’s daughter were married on March 1, 2004.
Jeffs was arrested by US law enforcement in Nevada in 2006 and was convicted of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of children in Texas. He is currently serving a life sentence.
Crown had askied for a jail term between 12-18 months for Brandon Blackmore, while a jail term of six to 12 months for Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore.
During a sentencing hearing in June, Blackmore’s lawyer, John Gustafson, said a pre-sentencing report indicates his client has had insight since the removal incident. Pearlman noted the report expressed Blackmore’s personal belief that his his children shouldn’t marry or engage in sexual activity until 18 years of age. However, in bringing his daughter to Jeffs, his belief in FLDS doctrine prevailed over his personal beliefs as a parent.
Gustafson had argued that a conditional sentence would be appropriate, while Joe Doyle, who was appointed amicus curiae — a friend of the court to counterbalance the prosecution — suggested a 90 conditional sentence for Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore.
Pearlman said in his ruling that he needed to balance the sentencing principles of deterrence and denunciation, and concluded that a conditional sentence was not appropriate.
“While the sentencing range does provide some guidance, bear in mind, sentencing is an individual process and I must determine a fit sentence for each offender taking into account their circumstances and the circumstances of the event,” Pearlman said.