A leader of a polygamous Arizona cult has been accused of marrying 20 women, most of whom are under the age of 15, and his daughter.
Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, has been accused of marrying up to 20 women and girls as young as 9, according to an FBI affidavit filed in Washington on Friday.
The affidavit obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune contains horrifying allegations of incest, group sex with adults and children, and child sex trafficking against Bateman.
Bateman leads an offshoot of the Mormon Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), but has been held in an Arizona jail since the FBI raided his two Colorado City homes in September.
According to the Tribune, agents were looking for evidence of underage marriages or adult-child sexual relations.
Although Bateman was not charged with sexual abuse, the affidavit alleges that the FBI has probable reason to believe that between May 2020 and November 2021, he and others transported minors between Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska to engage in illegal activities engage in sexual activity.
Bateman “began proclaiming 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 of FBI Special Agent Dawn A. Martin.
According to the affidavit, the majority of his wives are daughters, sisters and mothers from two large polygamous families.
Audio recordings of a November 2021 conversation were made available to Martin, in which Bateman said the “Heavenly Father” directed him to give “the most precious thing he has, the virtue of his girls” to three of his adult male followers.
According to the affidavit, Bateman then allegedly watched the three adult men have sex with his daughters, one of whom was just 12 years old.
He allegedly went on to say that his daughters “sacrificed their virtue for the Lord” and that “God will repair their bodies and put the membrane back into their bodies.” I’ve never had more confidence in doing His will. It’s all for love,” Martin Bateman quoted as saying.
The affidavit was filed Friday in federal court in Spokane, Wash., where eight girls were removed from Bateman’s home by the Arizona Department of Child Safety on Thursday.
The girls had been placed in group homes in a suburb of Phoenix but disappeared on Sunday.
Bateman was once among the trusted supporters of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, but Jeffs recently denounced Bateman in a written revelation he sent from prison to his supporters, according to the Daily Mail.
Bateman’s attorney, Adam Zickerman, warned in September against inferring that the case involved religious persecution, but stayed short of specifying Bateman’s beliefs or whether he practices polygamy.
Both the US Attorney’s office in Arizona and Zickerman declined to comment after a court hearing in September.
US Judge Camille Bibles ordered Bateman to remain behind bars while the case goes to court.
Bibles said Bateman has the connections to get help if needed and she is concerned about the young girls in vulnerable positions, noting, “Courts have a tremendous interest in protecting people who cannot protect themselves.”