Two Canadian men were convicted of polygamy but narrowly escaped a prison sentence based on the country's law prohibiting men from having more than 1 wife.
The court heard that the 60-year-old Winston Blackmore had 24 wives and 149 children, while James Oler, 53, has five wives and 11 children.
As reported by SCMP, the case had been dragging for nearly two decades, and the prosecutors appointed to the case would decline the offer.
They felt that polygamy was protected under Canada's constitutional right to religious freedom. Since the law prohibiting polygamy was enstated more than a century ago, this is only the third case to go to trial.
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Both Blackmore and Oler are fundamentalist Mormons who live in the mountainous region of Canada in what they describe as a tight-knit community who live off the land.
The community, named Bountiful, was founded in the late 1940's by one of Blackmore's relatives and were left to practice polygamy unhindered since then, Fox News reported.
“I’m guilty of living my religion and that’s all I’m saying today because I’ve never denied that.”
Winston Blackmore, Fox News, June 29, 2018.
Blackmore's lifestyle caught the attention of investigators when a former member of the community filed a complaint more than two decades ago. He remains adamant that the sentence will not discourage him 'from practicing his faith.'
According to The Star, Blackmore is still allowed to work and leave the house for medical emergencies, but other than that, he faces six months of house arrest and a year of probation.
Added to that, the men will do a combined 225 hours of community service between them.
Oler only received three months house arrest, followed by a year's probation. Both men received light sentences because they were 'hard-working and otherwise law-abiding.'