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Bill Johnson, a former Alabama gubernatorial candidate who campaigned against marriage equality, has been caught donating sperm to lesbian couples in New Zealand without the knowledge of his wife.
The New Zealand Herald reports that for most of this year Johnson has been helping with earthquake recovery in Christchurch, where he has also used the online persona "chchbill" to meet at least nine women, some of them in same-sex relationships, who want to get pregnant.
"Three of the women are now pregnant, and Johnson has assisted another three with donations in the past month," reports the the Herald. "It is believed he has been in communication with at least another three women to discuss sperm donation."
Johnson, 52, lives in Christchurch without his wife Kathy, a former Mrs. America finalist whom he married in 2004. The couple cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy 10 years ago, but Johnson described the urge to become a father as a "need that I have" when confronted Thursday by a reporter for the Herald.
Asked if he knew that a number of the women who had received his sperm were lesbians, Johnson said he did not know. When asked whether the status of their relationships mattered, he said, "I'm not going to answer that question."
The former gubernatorial candidate ran on a conservative Christian platform in 2009 and captured less than 2% of the vote in the GOP primary. He also served as director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and is a member of Mensa.
In a statement to the Press-Register newspaper in Alabama, his wife Kathy said, "This is a really, really difficult time for our family."
The prolific appearance of her husband's behavior has raised concerns among fertility experts. It is recommended that men provide sperm in a clinic environment and donate to no more than four families in order to reduce the possibility of accidental incest and to mitigate potential difficulties for donors and children who want to find each other in the future.
The Herald reports that it inquired into Johnson's life after receiving details from an undisclosed Internet source. Johnson confirmed the details in the Thursday meeting, but on Friday he alleged that the information was obtained illegally through phone or Internet hacking. The Herald maintains that no information was obtained through illegal means.