Arizona Cult Leader Had 20 Wives, As Young As Age 9

In a story first covered All About Arizona, the FBI is now revealing additional details on the accused Arizona polygamist cult leader who allegedly claimed 20 wives, many of which are underage, as young as 9 years old, with one concern that he married his own daughter.

Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46-year-old, is being accused of engaging in the transportation of minors in interstate commerce to engage in criminal sexual activity and travel interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minors, between May 2020 and November 2021, within the states of Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 6.

His wives were reportedly trafficked across state lines in the back of a trailer and forced to use a makeshift toilet of a trash bag and a bucket during their travels. In addition, according to federal prosecutors, during the investigation, Bateman, with accomplices, committed obstruction of justice by destroying records of their illegal actions.

Bateman is a self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a subset of the fundamentalist Mormon denominations whose members practice polygamy in the northern part of Arizona. In 2019, Bateman started proclamations that he was a prophet, translated from Warren Jeffs. The religious prophet apparently drove two Bentleys all while running failed business ventures in real estate and goal coaching. Jeffs was the former leader of the FLDS church.

Reports state that Bateman “has approximately 50 followers and over 20 wives, many of whom are minors, mostly under the age of 15,” according to a new FBI affidavit, filed in federal court on Friday by FBI Agent Dawn A. Martin. Details of the report included a criminal complaint against three newly charged co-conspirators. “Bateman allegedly has ‘impressions of Heavenly Father’s will’ to encourage his followers, including the minor children, to engage in sexual acts and relies on that submission to do his own will.”

Several of Bateman’s wives are the wives or daughters of Bateman’s male followers. Bateman has also been accused of trying to marry his own daughter. In the affidavit, Martin spoke interviewed a couple who knows Bateman and had been filming a documentary about the community.

According to the affidavit around November or December of 2020, Bateman drove a large SUV to the couple’s home in Colorado City, Arizona, full of women and girls. Bateman introduced every female in the vehicle as his wife. The youngest of the group was born in 2011. At the time, that would make the child just 9 years old.

The affidavit interview with the couple also details video calls in which Bateman and everyone else on the call were reportedly naked and performed group sex acts in what he called the “Binding of Brothers” ritual. Allegedly Bateman allegedly would frequently have sex with the wives of his male followers while other men and underage girls observed.

According to the affidavit, in even more deviant accounts, on November 1, 2021, Bateman claimed the “Heavenly Father” told him to “give the most precious thing he has, his girls’ virtue,” to three of his male followers in a group sex act, according to audio and video recordings. It is believed that one of the girls involved was only 12 years old.

“The girls, who were crying on the recording, said they hurt but there was not darkness. Bateman said the girls have sacrificed their virtue for the Lord,” the affidavit says. “Bateman said, ‘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.’ The girls ended with ‘It’s a privilege to hurt for someone else so they can rise.'”

It is believed that Bateman was at one time one of the trusted followers of imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs, however Jeffs recently denounced Bateman in a written revelation sent to his followers from prison. In 2006, Jeffs who was reported to have up to 78 wives, including minors, was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for fleeing from charges that he arranged illegal marriages between his adult males and underage girls in Utah. Jeffs was ultimately charged with multiple crimes involving the sexual assault of minors and is currently serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting some of his underage wives.