Two polygamists, both former leaders of a secluded religious sect in Canada, were placed on house and probation on Tuesday, following polygamy convictions.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan sentenced Winston Blackmore, 61, the father of 149 children, to six months under house arrest, followed by a year of house arrest for having 27 wives at the same time. Blackmore reportedly never denied having numerous wives, but claimed it was part of his religion which allowed “celestial” marriages.
“I’m guilty of living my religion and that’s all I’m saying today because I’ve never denied that,” Blackmore said. “Twenty-seven years and tens of millions of dollars later, all we’ve proved is something we’ve never denied. I’ve never denied my faith. This is what we expected.”
James Oler, 53, also convicted, was sentenced to three months of house arrest, followed by a year of probation. Both Blackmore and Oler served as bishops at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a religious sect that believes in multiple marriages.
According to People, at least 10 of Black’s wives were 17-year-olds when they married, while three of his wives were 16. Two of his wives were 15 when they married, but according to Blackmore’s lawyer, they were of age to consent, according to Canadian laws during that time period. Blackmore began his “celestial unions” in 1975.
Likewise, Oler also married young brides. A few of his wives were 15 at the time of marriage and a few others were 17. Blackmore and Oler are the first Canadians to face polygamy convictions since 1906.
This picture is a fitting one for this day. Myself with two sisters and one niece, all my age, next to my wonderful…
“Never has my dad denied it, never has he been ashamed of it, and never has there been a need for either because we’re all proud of each other,” one of his daughters posted on Facebook last year. “I’m proud of my father and my family and no guilty conviction, or amount of ‘experts’, who have no idea, trying to rescue me from my ‘brainwashed background’ can change one bit of that.”
Both Blackmore and Oler have additional sentences pending, with up to five years in prison each. Their lawyers plan to appeal.
[Feature Photo: Winston Blackmore via AP/Trent Nelson, Pool]