Samuel Bateman, leader of the polygamous sect, is now facing child molestation charges

Startling new details have emerged from an FBI investigation into a self-proclaimed Mormon “prophet” who allegedly raped girls as young as nine and took 20 wives, half of whom were minors.

A new 51-count indictment filed in an Arizona court reveals the lurid new allegations against Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 47, who claimed in 2019 to be the successor to Warren Jeffs, former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the last days. a polygamist sect. Jeffs – known to his supporters as “Uncle Warren” – is currently serving a life sentence for child sex abuse after it was revealed that 12 of his 78 “wives” were under the age of 15.

Bateman convinced some of his early followers that he had “impressions of Heavenly Father’s will,” according to court records, and encouraged them to “testify” to other potential followers that Bateman was doing “Uncle Warren’s” will.

The FLDS arose in the early 20th century when a group split from the Mormon Church over a disagreement over “plural marriage.” The sect was based in Short Creek, a two-city community on the Utah-Arizona border.

Bateman was born and raised in Short Creek, according to a profile Salt Lake Tribune. He became more religious after suffering a brain injury in a serious car accident as a teenager, friends told the newspaper. In 2019, two years after Jeffs was found guilty of child molestation, Bateman began declaring himself to be Jeffs’ successor, according to court documents.

As his following grew, Bateman began taking several adult women, according to prosecutors. He then began demanding that his followers give him their underage daughters in marriage, according to court documents. According to prosecutors, Bateman eventually “married” ten underage girls.

Bateman told a follower that the “lord” wanted him to marry the man’s nine-year-old daughter, prosecutors say, and that he would be “blessed for his loyalty.” According to court documents, Bateman told the girl that “the devil doesn’t like what we’re doing.” In total, Bateman “married” five of the man’s daughters, aged 9, 10, 11, 13 and 14.

After raping the 14-year-old daughter of one of his followers, Bateman reported that he “slept with Angel Mother last night,” prosecutors say. On another occasion, Bateman offered one of his followers sex with an underage girl in exchange for Bateman having sex with the man’s wife, the documents say.

Bateman not only raped and sexually abused his underage wives, the latest indictment says, but also “trained” them to perform sexual acts in front of other followers. He also filmed “group sexual activity involving minors,” according to prosecutors, so supporters in different states could participate. According to court documents, Bateman has referred to the abuse as a “sacred ordinance” on multiple occasions.

On one occasion, Bateman drank wine and had sex with a male follower, Moroni Johnson, in a Lincoln, Nebraska motel room in front of his underage wives, some of whom were Johnson’s own daughters. The FBI said the women and girls had to stand naked and watch the “brother bonding.”

In order to maintain tight control over his followers, Bateman “reprimanded” them when he found them disobedient and demanded “confessions” from them, the court filings say. One of Bateman’s followers, Torrance Bistline, allegedly bought Bateman a luxury Bentley car. According to court documents, Bateman then watched as Bistline had sex with a 12-year-old girl. Shortly thereafter, Bistline Bateman is said to have bought a second Bentley. Another follower, Ladell Bistline Jr., also bought two Range Rovers from Bateman, according to prosecutors.

“Your children will fall by the dozen unless you repent in sackcloth and ashes,” Bateman reportedly told a displeased follower.

Short Creek residents reported Bateman to authorities multiple times between 2020 and 2022, the report said Salt Lake Tribune. According to the newspaper, federal agents searched his home looking for evidence that he had taken multiple wives or sexually abused minors. The Arizona Department of Child Services also attempted to interview Bateman’s adult “wives” about potential abuse, but they refused to cooperate, according to court documents.

In August 2022, Bateman was pulled over in Arizona and authorities found three young girls in a locked cargo trailer. The following month, Bateman’s home was searched and charged with attempting to destroy records as part of a federal investigation. Upon realizing that the authorities were after him, he reportedly ordered his followers to delete their Signal messenger apps.

After the raid, the state took nine girls between the ages of 11 and 16 into custody. But in November 2022, eight of the Arizona girls disappeared. They were found at an Airbnb in Spokane, Washington, along with one of Bateman’s adult female followers. It was later revealed that Bateman had kept in touch with his adult “wives” via video calls from prison and instructed them to kidnap the girls. Bateman’s phone privileges at Florence Correctional Center were revoked after authorities found he had also engaged in “explicit sexual conversations” with the underage girls.

Three of Bateman’s adult wives – Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow and Moretta Rose Johnson – were charged with kidnapping in December 2022. You face a life sentence. The latest indictment also indicts ten of Bateman’s followers as co-conspirators in a child sex trafficking plot.

Bateman himself faces renewed charges of transporting minors for criminal sexual activity and production of “child pornography,” as well as his previous disability charges.

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