An Arizona polygamist cult leader has been accused of marrying more than 20 women, most under the age of 15 — reportedly including his own daughter.
An FBI affidavit filed Friday in Washington, and obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune. contains horrifying accusations against Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, of incest, group sex acts involving adults and children– some as young as 9 — and child sex trafficking.
Bateman leads an offshoot group of the Mormon Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, but has been held in an Arizona jail since the FBI raided his two Colorado City homes in September.
Agents looked for evidence of underage marriages or sexual relationships between adults and children, according to the Tribune.
According to the Tribune, Bateman’s family told investigators in early 2019 that he had felt prompted to take his own teenage daughter as his wife.
While Bateman has not been charged with sexual abuse, the affidavit claims the FBI has probable cause to believe he and others transported minors between Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska to engage in illicit sexual conduct between May 2020 and November 2021.
Bateman “began to proclaim he was a prophet” in 2019, and gained about 50 followers and over 20 wives, most of whom are minors under the age of 15, according to the affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Dawn A. Martin.
The majority of his wives are daughters, sisters and mothers from two extended polygamous families, according to the affidavit.
Martin was provided audio recordings of a November 2021 conversation in which Bateman said “Heavenly Father” had instruction him to “give the most precious thing he has, his girls’ virtue,” to three of his adult male followers.
Bateman then allegedly watched the three adult men have sex with his daughters, one of whom was only 12 years old, according to the affidavit.
He allegedly went on to say his daughters had “sacrificed their virtue for the Lord” and that “God will fix their bodies and put the membrane back in their body. I’ve never had more confidence in doing his will. It’s all out of love,” Martin quoted Bateman as saying.
The affidavit was filed Friday in a federal court in Spokane, Washington, where eight girls were removed from Batemans home by the Arizona Department of Child Safety on Thursday.
The girls had been placed in group homes in the suburbs of Phoenix, but disappeared on Sunday.
Bateman had once been among the trusted followers of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, but Jeffs recently denounced Bateman in a written revelation sent to his followers from prison, according to the Daily Mail.
Bateman’s attorney, Adam Zickerman, cautioned in September against inferring the case was about religious persecution, but stopped short of specifying Bateman’s faith or whether he practices polygamy.
Both the US Attorney’s Office in Arizona and Zickerman declined to comment following a September court hearing.
US Magistrate Judge Camille Bibles ordered that Bateman remain behind bars while the case winds through the courts.
Bibles said Bateman had the connections to receive help if needed and that she was concerned about the young girls in vulnerable positions, noting: “Courts have a tremendous interest in protecting people who can’t protect themselves.”
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