FBI: Alleged Cult Leader Accused of Sexual Abuse Had 20 Wives, Some as Young as Age 9
Above: Samuel Rappylee Bateman booking photo | Coconino County Sheriff’s Office
An alleged polygamist cult leader in Arizona is reportedly being accused of transporting minors across state lines for illicit sexual purposes, as well as marrying several underage girls, according an affidavit filed in federal court by the FBI.
The affidavit reportedly accuses 46-year-old Samuel Rappylee Bateman of transporting minors across multiple states — including Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Nebraska — for illicit sexual purposes between May 2020 and November 2021.
Bateman remains in custody on charges of child abuse.
On September 6, a Colorado City grand jury indicted Bateman on charges of destruction of records or an attempt to destroy records in an official proceeding, tampering or attempting to tamper with an official proceeding, and destruction of records in a federal investigation.
Bateman has reportedly pleaded not guilty to these charges.
Bateman’s alleged attempts to tamper with or destroy records reportedly relates to a traffic stop on a highway in which he was found with three young girls inside an enclosed trailer. The girls were between the ages of 11 and 14 and were being kept in the trailer with “a makeshift toilet, couch, and camping chairs,” according to KTLA.
Bateman is also accused of marrying several underage girls, many under the age of 15 and one as young as 9, and is also said to have tried to marry his own daughter. The affidavit further accuses Bateman of encouraging his followers, including minors, to engage in sexual acts.
Bateman is reportedly a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), and is part of a small group that practices polygamy despite it being illegal in the United States.
According to FOX10, some of Bateman’s wives were also the wives, or daughters, of some of Bateman’s male followers.
The Mormon church has denounced FLDS, and has stated that the practice of polygamy is grounds for excommunication.