Polygamist cultist Sam Bateman charged with child sex crimes

Accused polygamist cult leader Sam Bateman (Screenshot via Law&Crime Network)

Polygamist cult leader Sam Bateman, a self-proclaimed prophet who was awaiting trial on kidnapping and other charges, now faces his first charges accusing him of sexually abusing children.

In June 2021, Bateman took Jane Doe 10, one of his unnamed victims, for a ride down to a stream, and as “recorded” by the girl, they “inexpressibly worshiped our God” and had “sacred sex”, according to the new indictment. She was between 14 and 15 at the time, according to prosecutors.

Bateman also allegedly participated in “group sexual activity” with at least four unnamed victims – identified only as Jane Doe 3, Jane Doe 4, Jane Doe 7 and Jane Doe 10 – along with his co-defendants Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow, and Leia Bistline, who were also his wives and followers.

The illicit encounters took place on at least two occasions — on January 1, 2021 and August 27, 2022 — in Colorado City, Arizona, prosecutors say.

The massive indictment against Bateman and his supporters lists 11 defendants facing 56 cumulative counts. Bateman himself faces dozens of charges, one of which could put him behind bars for 30 years. His alleged victims are only 9 years old.

‘Impressions of Heavenly Father’s Will’

Federal prosecutors have long said Bateman had sex with minors, some of whom he referred to as his “wives.” Court documents also described him as engaging in “sexual discussions” with them in recorded conversations on prison phones.

Until recently, his criminal charges stopped short of directly accusing these crimes. First, prosecutors charged Bateman with destroying records in an official process, tampering with an official process, and destroying records. Then they added the counts of kidnapping and conspiracy. The new indictment, announced by the Justice Department on Wednesday but filed May 18, 2023, significantly increases Bateman’s criminal exposure by charging these crimes.

In 2019, Bateman declared himself a prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), a sect whose adherents practice polygamy. The government estimates that Bateman has about 50 followers and more than 20 wives, of whom at least 10 are minors between the ages of 12 and 16.

“Bateman allegedly has ‘impressions of the will of our Heavenly Father’ to encourage his followers, including underage children, to engage in sexual acts and relies on that submission to do his own will,” prosecutors wrote. the 3 of March. “Bateman is a subject in a federal investigation into transportation of minors in interstate commerce to engage in criminal sexual activity and travel in interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual behavior with minors, beginning in May around 2020.

“Coordinated Group Sexual Activity”

The accused cult leader is now charged with producing child sexual exploitation material, conspiring to transport a minor for criminal sex, conspiring to cross state lines to engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, using a means of interstate commerce to persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity and to travel between states with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.

In late November 2020, Bateman “coordinated group sexual activity” in a hotel room in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with some of his followers, including underage girls, prosecutors say. Some of those involved reportedly participated via video call.

In the hotel room, the wife of one of Bateman’s supporters “taught Jane Doe 3 and defendants Naomi Bistline and Moretta Rose Johnson (then 17) to ‘bless’ defendant Samuel Rappylee Bateman and prepare him for sex,” according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say Bateman coordinated a video call to a follower in that city and the participants were naked, including a minor. The charge of producing child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.

Although the wording of the law refers to “child pornography,” victim advocates opt for the material term of child sexual exploitation to emphasize the crime and harm.

In August 2022, Bateman was stopped during a traffic stop and investigators found three young girls between the ages of 11 and 14, makeshift seats and a Porta-Potty.

After being released on bail the following month, Bateman had “sex with Jane Doe 5 (then 15) in front of Jane Doe 10 (then 15)”, and “it was the first time that Jane Doe 10 saw defendant Bateman use a condom,” according to the indictment.

Read the indictment here.

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