Two Canadian men sentenced to house arrest for having multiple wives

Winston Blackmore has reportedly married 24 women and fathered 146 children.
Winston Blackmore has reportedly married 24 women and fathered 146 children. Photo credit: File

Two Canadian men have been sentenced to house arrest for having multiple wives. 

The practice of men having more than one wife at the same time is called polygamy, while polyandry is the term given to women who have more than one husband. 

A married person who enters into another marriage in New Zealand is guilty of the crime bigamy, and it's also illegal in Canada, with the western state of British Columbia recently making an example of it for the first time in over a century. 

Winston Blackmore and James Oler were sentenced to six and three months house arrest respectively on Tuesday, CBC News reported. The two men were convicted of one count of polygamy each in July 2017. 

The two men were both bishops of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a breakaway Mormon sect within a religious community in British Columbia called Bountiful. 

According to CBC, Blackmore married 24 women between 1990 and 2014, court documents said. It's been reported he has fathered at least 146 children, and will serve his sentence in his home with allowances to go to work and leave for medical emergencies. 

Oler will also be under hour arrest at his home in Alberta, after being convicted of marrying five women between 1993 and 2009. Oler will only serve 75 hours of community service following his probation, while Blackmore will serve 150 hours. 

Both men previously pleaded not guilty, the Guardian reports. Blackmore's lawyer reportedly argued Canada's century-old polygamy law violated religious rights. 

It's been reported the Canadian government has often avoided pursuing polygamy charges for fear of violating the constitutional freedom of religion. 

But in 2011, the British Columbia Supreme Court affirmed that laws banning polygamy were constitutional and did not go against religious freedom.