11/22/2016 16:27 EST | Updated 11/23/2017 00:12 EST

Trial begins for B.C. polygamists accused of transporting minors

Opening statements have been delayed in the trial for three people from a fundamentalist polygamous sect in southeastern British Columbia, accused of taking underage girls across the U.S. border to become child brides.

Brandon Blackmore and Gail Blackmore are accused of unlawfully removing a 13-year-old child from Canada for a sexual purpose in February 2004.

James Oler, the former leader of one of the two polygamous factions in the small community of Bountiful, is accused of taking a child across the border to marry in June 2004.

  • B.C. polygamists, accused of taking child brides to U.S., face trial

Oler and Gail Blackmore, who was identified as Emily Ruth Gail Crossfield when charges were laid more than two years ago, are representing themselves.

That complicated matters on the trial's opening day, as issues related to evidence that would ordinarily be routine were worked out.

Justice Paul Pearlman also walked Oler and Gail Blackmore through trial procedures and offered to help answer questions, short of providing legal advice.

The trial is taking place in Cranbrook, B.C., about 100 kilometres from Bountiful, where some residents practice plural marriage.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating