BRITISH COLUMBIA

Accused in polygamy case asks for passport back to travel to U.S.

01/29/2015 04:31 EST | Updated 03/31/2015 05:59 EDT
CRESTON, B.C. - One of four people accused of polygamy-related charges in British Columbia is asking the court to return her passport so she can travel into the United States.

Emily Crossfield is accused along with two others of unlawfully removing a child from Canada with the intent that an offence of a sexual nature would be committed.

She asked provincial court Judge Ron Webb on Thursday to have her passport returned so she can shop in the U.S., mainly for herbs, after she took a herbal practitioner course at a local college.

Crown lawyer Tom Arbogast opposed the return of her passport, telling the court the RCMP believes she is a flight risk.

Crossfield, her husband Brandon Blackmore and James Oler all face the same charges, Arbogast noted.

It is believed they have an "extensive network of contacts in Utah and Arizona," he told the court.

Crossfield replied that she has responsibilities in Canada, adding "I'll return."

Oler also faces polygamy charges along with outspoken community leader Winston Blackmore, who is the father of Brandon Blackmore. Oler is accused of having four wives, while Winston Blackmore is alleged to have 24.

Winston Blackmore and Oler lead different factions in the tiny polygamous community of Bountiful, in southeastern B.C.

Oler's faction follows jailed American polygamist Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Jeffs was convicted in the U.S. for sexually assaulting two girls, aged 12 and 15, that he claimed were his "spiritual wives."

Earlier this month, a court prohibited Winston Blackmore from using trademarks belonging to the Mormon church. He was ordered to change his group's corporate name to Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine) Inc.

The mainstream Mormon church renounced polygamy over a century ago.

All the accused were expected to reveal Thursday if they wanted to be tried by judge alone or with a judge and jury. But that decision was delayed.

"We're making good progress in advising Mr. (Winston) Blackmore as to his options," Blackmore's lawyer, Joe Arvay, told the court over the phone.

Winston Blackmore and Oler are expected to be back in court March 26 to reveal their decision on the type of trail they want.

Crossfield and Brandon Blackmore are back in court Feb. 26, where they are also expected to reveal what kind of trial they want and the judge will hear arguments over returning the woman's passport.

The judge noted that the need to shop in the United States made the passport "nice to have as opposed to compelling."

Winston Blackmore and Oler were accused of the same charges in 2009, but the case was thrown out over the government's use of a special prosecutor.

The B.C. government launched a constitutional reference case afterwards to determine if the law was valid, which ended with a judge ruling the ban on polygamy does not violate the charter.

(Creston Valley Advance)