A man and woman from the polygamist enclave of Bountiful, B.C., have been sentenced to several months of jail time for taking a 13-year-old girl to the U.S. to be married.
Brandon and Gail Blackmore, formerly husband and wife, were found guilty in B.C. Supreme Court in February of taking an underage girl across the border for a sexual purpose.
On Friday, Brandon Blackmore was sentenced to one year in jail, to be followed by 18 months’ probation. Gail Blackmore received seven months behind bars.
The victim — who cannot be identified due to a publication ban — said she wanted to address the court after the sentencing. She was denied and the Blackmores were led away in handcuffs.
The charges stemmed from the girl’s 2004 marriage to Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who is now serving a life sentence in Texas.
Jeffs testified that “God told him the [13-year-old] girl belonged to him,” ordering the Blackmores to bring her to Utah to be married. At the time, Jeffs already had more than 80 wives.
At a sentencing hearing in June, Crown prosecutors asked for jail time of 12 to 18 months for Brandon Blackmore and six to 12 months for his ex-wife.
The judge said the sentences should act as a deterrent to “secretive” weddings within the polygamist community.
Special prosecutor Peter Wilson acknowledged there is no case law setting a precedent for sentencing, but asked the judge to consider the vulnerability of the young victim.
“The sentence should not only denounce but deter them and other members of their community from engaging in similar practice,” Wilson said in June.
Brandon Blackmore’s defence lawyer had asked for a conditional sentence instead, arguing his 71-year-old client has health problems.
At the time of the crime, the Blackmores were both members of the fundamentalist Mormon church in the southeastern community of Bountiful, where it’s common for men to marry multiple women.
A third defendant in the Blackmores’ trial, James Oler, was found not guilty of transporting a 15-year-old girl to the U.S. to marry. The B.C. government is appealing that decision.