A serial bigamist who married four women in the span of as many years has been put behind bars after he was found out by one of his wives.
According to a report by The Beijing News, on Thursday the Haidian District People’s Court sentenced Chen to 22 months in prison for circumventing China’s marriage laws.
Chen, 49, was able to marry multiple women by registering the marriages in different locations. The local registries were at the time reportedly unable to check their records against those of other provinces.
Originally from central Henan province, Chen married his first wife in Beijing in March 2008. He then travelled almost 500 kilometers to Xintai, in China’s eastern Shandong province, where he married his second wife a week later.
Both marriages produced children, and both ended in divorce after exactly two years, when the women discovered they were being tricked, according to The Beijing News.
Three months later, in June, Chen registered a marriage in Hohhot, the capital of North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
In July 2012 China implemented a national marriage registry that in theory should prevent people from applying for multiple marriages, but Chen still managed to register for his fourth marriage in August 2012, this time in Henan province.
Convincing his spouses that he had to travel often for business, Chen was able to spend long periods away from home without raising suspicions.
The second deception was eventually discovered by Chen’s fourth wife, who found emails between him and his third wife. Chen denied claims of infidelity, alleging that his third wife was just one of his assistants. The fourth wife then traveled to Chen’s hometown in Henan, where she tracked down Chen’s mother, who confirmed the third wife was indeed her daughter-in-law.
According to The Beijing News the fourth wife discovered Chen’s earlier double marriage when she found emails between Chen and his second wife, who had contacted him demanding alimony payments. With proof of four sham marriages, Chen’s wives collectively turned him in to the authorities.
Additional reporting by Dong Heng.
(Header image: At his sentencing hearing at the Haidian District People’s Court, Chen Liangtao appeals charges of bigamy, Beijing, April 14, 2016. Beijing Times/IC)