Canadian couple sentenced in case of underage polygamous marriage

Supporters of Brandon Blackmore, Gail Blackmore and James Oler arrive at the courthouse in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. Two people linked to the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C., could have foreseen that their actions would lead to a girl having sex with the church's prophet well before her 14th birthday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge said as he convicted estranged husband and wife Brandon Blackmore and Gail Blackmore Friday. He found James Oler not guilty of the same charge. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Cranbook, British Columbia • A former husband and wife from a Canadian polygamous community were sentenced to jail Friday for taking a 13-year-old girl to the U.S. to marry the now-imprisoned leader of their sect.

British Columbia Supreme Court judge Paul Pearlman sentenced Brandon Blackmore to a year in jail, while Gail Blackmore, his ex-wife, was given a term of seven months. Both were also ordered to serve 18 months’ probation after their jail time.

The pair from the polygamous community of Bountiful, British Columbia, were found guilty in February of the charge of taking a child under age 16 out of Canada for sexual purposes.

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

The trial heard evidence that the girl was taken into the United States in 2004 to marry Warren Jeffs, the leader 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 it was important to “send a clear message to others, including members of the FLDS community” by imposing jail terms.

Pearlman said Brandon Blackmore’s “degree of culpability was high” and the defendant didn’t express any remorse for taking the girl to the United States to marry a man who was 49 years old at the time.

The judge said Gail Blackmore was a willing participant in the girl’s removal from Canada.

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson had told a sentencing hearing last month that 71-year-old Brandon Blackmore should serve 12 to 18 months, while Gail Blackmore, 60, should get six to 12 months.

Wilson agreed that Brandon Blackmore bore greater responsibility than his former wife, but argued that both were present at the wedding of the girl and knew what would happen when they took her from Canada.

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