Judge sends ‘clear mes­sage’ to polyg­a­mous sect

Hus­band and ex-wife im­pris­oned for tak­ing 13-year-old across bor­der

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - BILL GRAVELAND

CRAN­BROOK, B.C. — A Bri­tish Columbia judge who sen­tenced a for­mer hus­band and wife to jail for tak­ing a 13-year-old girl to the United States to marry the leader of their re­li­gious sect says he wants to “send a clear mes­sage” about the re­moval of chil­dren to the oth­ers in the polyg­a­mous com­mu­nity of Boun­ti­ful, B.C.

Bran­don Black­more, 71, has been sen­tenced to a year in jail, while his ex-wife, Gail Black­more, 60, was handed a term of seven months. Both have been or­dered to serve 18 months of pro­ba­tion.

Just be­fore Jus­tice Paul Pearl­man of the B.C. Supreme Court fin­ished read­ing his de­ci­sion, the young woman at the cen­tre of the case asked to ad­dress the court.

“In my view it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate at this stage,” Pearl­man replied. “I’ve de­liv­ered my rea­sons for sen­tenc­ing.”

The woman, whose iden­tity is pro­tected by a pub­li­ca­tion ban, did not give a state­ment dur­ing a sen­tenc­ing hear­ing in June.

The Black­mores were found guilty in Fe­bru­ary of the charge of tak­ing a child un­der the age of 16 out of Canada for sex­ual pur­poses.

“In my view a term of im­pris­on­ment is war­ranted in this case,” Pearl­man said.

Their trial heard the girl was taken into the United States in 2004 to marry War­ren Jeffs, the prophet of the Fun­da­men­tal­ist Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-Day Saints, who is now serv­ing a life sen­tence for as­sault­ing two of his child brides.

Pearl­man said the sen­tences had to be pro­por­tion­ate to the grav­ity of the case and serve as a de­ter­rent.

He said both Black­mores were aware there was a high like­li­hood that the young woman would have been sub­jected to sex­ual touch­ing or sex­ual in­ter­fer­ence shortly af­ter her mar­riage to Jeffs.

Gail Black­more was a “will­ing par­tic­i­pant,” but her for­mer hus­band was most to blame, Pearl­man said.

“Mr. Black­more’s moral cul­pa­bil­ity is some­what greater,” Pearl­man said.

Pearl­man said nei­ther Black­more showed any re­morse for tak­ing the girl to the United States to marry a man who was 49 years old at the time.

The Black­mores were both hand­cuffed and led away by sher­iffs at the end of the hear­ing.

A for­mer bishop of the com­mu­nity of Boun­ti­ful, James Oler, was ac­quit­ted of the same charge dur­ing their trial in con­nec­tion to a 15-yearold girl.

Pearl­man ruled that there wasn’t proof Oler crossed the bor­der with the girl, who was later mar­ried to a mem­ber of the sect.

Spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Peter Wil­son is ask­ing B.C.’s Court of Ap­peal to over­turn his ac­quit­tal or or­der a new trial.

Wil­son told the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing on June 30 that Bran­don Black­more should serve a jail sen­tence of 12 to 18 months, while Gail Black­more should get six to 12 months.

“The spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor in this case urged the court to im­pose a sen­tence which would de­nounce the un­law­ful con­duct of the of­fend­ers … and as well act as a gen­eral de­ter­rent to other mem­bers of the com­mu­nity,” B.C. Jus­tice spokesper­son Dan McLaugh­lin said.

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Bran­don Black­more, 70, was sen­tenced to a year in jail, while his ex-wife, Gail Black­more, has been given a term of seven months.

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