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Pervert Mormon cult leader Samuel Bateman accused of taking 20 wives underage girls plead not guilty

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A polygamous leader accused of taking more than 20 wives, including underage girls has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and tampering with evidence charges stemming from a federal investigation into his community on the Utah-Arizona border.

Samuel Rappylee Bateman’s case is the most recent example of law enforcement taking action against abuse in the sister cities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, longtime strongholds of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known by its acronym FLDS.  

 The FLDS is an offshoot of the LDS church that believes in polygamy, which was made legal in Utah in 2020, but is banned in the mainstream Mormon religion.

In late August Bateman was arrested in Flagstaff, Arizona, after being caught towing three of his underage ‘wives’ in a box trailer during a traffic stop.

Bateman entered his not-guilty plea during a hearing in a federal courtroom in Phoenix, court documents show. A trial has been set for January 10, but his attorneys have requested more time to prepare.

Mormon cult leader Samuel Rappylee Bateman and some of his 23 wives can be seen earlier this year posing with journalist Mike Watkiss, whose reporting played a role in FLDS leader Warren Jeffs’s downfall 

Mormon cult leader Samuel Rappylee Bateman is heard proselytizing about 'blood atonement' in a chilling audio recording obtained by DailyMail.com

Samuel Rappylee Bateman

Mormon cult leader Samuel Rappylee Bateman is heard proselytizing about ‘blood atonement’ in a chilling audio recording obtained by DailyMail.com 

The community was once dominated by the polygamous group but has transformed since its leader, Warren Jeffs, was sentenced to life in prison more than a decade ago on child sex abuse charges related to underage marriages.

Bateman, 46, is a former follower of Jeffs who broke off from the FLDS church with a few dozen followers of his own after fashioning himself as a prophet and successor to Jeffs. From prison, Jeffs has denounced Bateman, said Sam Brower, an investigator who has spent years following the group,

Bateman faces a raft of state and federal charges including child abuse, obstructing a federal investigation and — along with several female followers — aiding in kidnapping girls the state foster care they were placed in after his arrest earlier this year.

Though federal charges to date have been limited to tampering with and destroying evidence, and aiding in kidnapping girls, court documents in Bateman and his followers’ cases outline a thorough investigation uncovering allegations that Bateman orchestrated sexual acts involving minors and gave wives as gifts to his male followers — claiming to do so on orders from the ‘Heavenly Father.’

They said that he used public shaming and sex to punish followers — and at one point tried to take a wife his only daughter, who later left with her mother when Bateman started taking more wives.

Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but the faith known widely as the Mormon church abandoned the practice in 1890 and now strictly prohibits it.

Bateman was caught on tape ranting about killing one of his followers in a religious rite – just weeks before he was arrested while transporting three of his underage ‘wives’ in a box trailer.

The chilling audio, which was obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com, offers an insight into Bateman’s bizarre beliefs that saw him kicked out of the FLDS in 2019.

The FLDS is an offshoot of the LDS church that believes in polygamy, which was made legal in Utah in 2020, but is banned in the mainstream Mormon religion.

In the 30-second clip, Bateman is heard talking about how ‘payment’ is required ‘every time you do wrong’ and boasting that his male followers would ‘beg’ to have their blood spilled so they can be granted eternal life.

He went on: ‘People get scared because they hear, oh blood atonement – you kill someone and bury them in your backyard.

‘No, it’s not all that. It’s an open thing. But I promise, there will be men who beg to have their blood spilled because they will feel there’s an eternal judgment.

‘The only way they can feel that feel is to shed their blood and die, and the Lord will give them eternal life. 

‘There is payment every time you do wrong, there is payment that is needed.’

Bateman proclaimed himself a prophet in 2019 when he left FLDS to start his own sect near the Arizona-Utah border, where he was supported financially by male followers who gave up their own wives and young daughters to be his wives. 

The polygamist leader had at harem made up of more than 20 women who can be seen with Bateman for the first time in a photo taken late last year shared exclusively with DailyMail.com. 

Bateman is seen proudly smiling with his wives, some who were cradling babies, during a meeting with local Arizona journalist Mike Watkiss at a park in December 2021.  

The meeting took place after Bateman requested to meet Watkiss – whose reporting helped take down former FLDS leader and convicted child rapist Warren Jeffs in 2006 – saying he had been instructed to arrange a meeting with the journalist. 

Bateman is currently locked up on an FBI hold in Florence, Arizona, after being arrested for a second time in September on evidence tampering charges. He was originally held in August.

Until his second arrest, the self-proclaimed prophet had been living the high life in Colorado City, Arizona – a small town of 5,000 people which with Hildale, Utah, is collectively known as Short Creek and is the former headquarters of the FLDS.

It was in Short Creek that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs built himself a 44-room mansion emblazoned with the words ‘Pray and Obey’ where he lived with his 78 wives until a warrant for his arrest on accomplice to rape charges was issued by authorities in Utah in 2006.

Bateman was living in the Mormon community of Short Creek, where he and his 23 wives lived in two homes ¿ known as the 'blue house' and the 'green house' (pictured)

Bateman was living in the Mormon community of Short Creek, where he and his 23 wives lived in two homes – known as the ‘blue house’ and the ‘green house’ (pictured) 

The cult leader lived in the green house, next to a white trailer which was adapted to become a sewing room for his wives

The cult leader lived in the green house, next to a white trailer which was adapted to become a sewing room for his wives

The blue house was home to Bateman's followers. Wives who were being 'corrected' were sent to live with Johnson and the Bistline brothers at the blue house

The blue house was home to Bateman’s followers. Wives who were being ‘corrected’ were sent to live with Johnson and the Bistline brothers at the blue house

Short Creek encompasses Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and is the former headquarters of the FLDS

Short Creek encompasses Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and is the former headquarters of the FLDS 

Bateman is a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and was once a devoted follower of leader Warren Jeffs, 67, who is serving a life sentence for sexually abusing two underage girls

Bateman is a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and was once a devoted follower of leader Warren Jeffs, 67, who is serving a life sentence for sexually abusing two underage girls

According to an FBI affidavit, Bateman and his 23 wives lived in two homes – known as the ‘blue house’ and the ‘green house’.

The green house, which is seen in exclusive DailyMail.com photos, was his main residence and sits next to a white trailer which was adapted to become a sewing room for his wives.

Meanwhile, the blue house was home to Bateman’s followers – named in the affidavit as Torrance Bistline, 34, LaDell Bistline Jr, 47, and Moroni Johnson, 51.

Wives who were being ‘corrected’ were sent to live with Johnson and the Bistline brothers at the blue house.

The property sits next to two battered trailers – occupied by two more Bistline brothers, Truxton and Sky, both of whom are sons of Maria Bistline, one of Bateman’s wives.

Despite not having a job, Bateman owns two Bentley cars – and was often seen cruising around Colorado City in a convoy with his wives packed into the vehicles.

An exclusive DailyMail.com photo shows the two luxury Flying Spurs – which cost more than $200,000 new – sweeping up to the home of a friend, with Bateman’s hand seen waving from the front seat of the lead car.

Bateman’s lavish lifestyle has now been swapped for prison, following his arrest on child endangerment charges in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the end of August.

Although he bonded out of the Coconino County Detention Facility, despite his bond being set at $1.5million, he was re-arrested by the FBI in early September and remains imprisoned.

He has been charged by the FBI with evidence tampering due to a number of calls he made to his wives while locked up in Coconino County.

Despite not having a job, Bateman owns two Bentley cars ¿ and was often seen cruising around Colorado City in a convoy with his wives packed into the vehicles

Despite not having a job, Bateman owns two Bentley cars – and was often seen cruising around Colorado City in a convoy with his wives packed into the vehicles

An exclusive DailyMail.com photo shows Bateman waving from the front seat of one of the Bentley Flying Spurs ¿ which cost more than $200,000 new

An exclusive DailyMail.com photo shows Bateman waving from the front seat of one of the Bentley Flying Spurs – which cost more than $200,000 new

FBI agents raid the home of Samuel Rappylee Bateman in Colorado City, Arizona, on September 13

FBI agents raid the home of Samuel Rappylee Bateman in Colorado City, Arizona, on September 13

Family and followers of Samuel Bateman gather around as he calls from police custody following his arrest in Colorado City on September 13

Family and followers of Samuel Bateman gather around as he calls from police custody following his arrest in Colorado City on September 13

In them, Bateman demanded they delete an encrypted chat on messaging app Signal – potentially obliterating incriminating evidence.

During the raid, agents removed his nine underage wives from the blue and green houses and transported them to group homes in Phoenix.

Three of his older wives are now facing federal kidnapping charges after they helped eight of the nine escape from the homes and allegedly transported them to Spokane, Washington.

According to an affidavit filed in Spokane on December 2, the eight girls were found holed up at an Airbnb with Moretta Johnson, 19, who is now being held at the Spokane County Jail.

The rental was paid for by Torrance who is the cousin of Naomi Bistline – a wife of Bateman’s who has also been charged.

Another wife, Donnae Barlow, was also involved and appeared in court in Flagstaff last week to be charged.

The affidavit also revealed further details of Bateman’s activities, including a perverted attempt to marry his own teen daughter and his insistence on marrying a girl who was just nine when they wed.

According to the FBI documents, Bateman insisted she share his bed but became enraged when the terrified child urinated in her sleep.

The 46-year-old remains in custody after he was arrested twice earlier this year. He was first apprehended in August after he was caught towing his underaged 'wives' in a trailer in Flagstaff, Arizona

The 46-year-old remains in custody after he was arrested twice earlier this year. He was first apprehended in August after he was caught towing his underaged ‘wives’ in a trailer in Flagstaff, Arizona 

Some of Bateman's wives appear in police bodycam footage of his August arrest, when authorities found them traveling with underage girls whom he counted among his wives

Some of Bateman’s wives appear in police bodycam footage of his August arrest, when authorities found them traveling with underage girls whom he counted among his wives 

An evidence photo shows the trailer Bateman allegedly used to transport underage girls

An evidence photo shows the trailer Bateman allegedly used to transport underage girls

The squalid trailer was furnished with a couch, camper chairs, and a toilet made from a bucket

The squalid trailer was furnished with a couch, camper chairs, and a toilet made from a bucket

Naomi Bistline was seen arriving at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff in early December

Donnae Barlow, one of Samuel Rappylee Bateman's many wives, was pictured with her wrists and ankles shackled as she wore a blue jumpsuit over her long dress to face federal kidnapping charges in early December

Two of Bateman’s many wives Naomi Bistline and Donnae Barlow were seen arriving at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff in early December

Separately, he demanded all his wives wear red lacy underwear, including the youngest girls – items that would usually never be worn by FDLS women who typically opt for chaste undergarments that cover their entire bodies.

The documents also detail how Bateman’s first wife Lydia, 43, dumped him after he proclaimed himself a prophet and gave their teen daughter ‘nasty, ‘slobbery’ kisses.

The affidavit lays out how Bateman was able to control his followers by playing on their strong faith and combining it with a mix of mental, physical and sexual abuse.

He also demanded to marry the wives and daughters of his followers who he would then introduce to his own daughter in FaceTime calls as ‘mother’ despite several of them being younger than her.

Bateman demanded his acolytes take part in a series of sex-based rites – including one incident known as ‘the Atonement’ where Torrance Bistline was ordered to have anal sex with one of Bateman’s wives who was just 13 at the time.

SHORT CREEK’S FLDS HISTORY 

Colorado City, where Bateman and his underage wives lived until recently, was founded in 1913 by members of the Council of Friends – a splinter group of the LDS church who wanted to practice polygamy.

With its Utah sister town Hildale, it is part of an area collectively known as Short Creek which, in 2002, became the headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints [FLDS].

At least half of the 8,000 residents of the area are descended from founders Joseph Smith Jessop and John Barlow – with the result the area has one of the world’s highest levels of fumarase deficiency which causes intellectual disabilities.

The genetic illness is thought to be the result of inbreeding – Colorado City is also notorious for high numbers of cousin marriages.

Short Creek had been a sleepy backwater for most of its history but that changed in 2000 when FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs ordered his followers to sell their homes elsewhere and move to the town.

Short Creek is the former headquarters of the FLDS where leader Warren Jeffs built himself a 44-room mansion emblazoned with the words 'Pray and Obey' where he lived with his 78 wives

Short Creek is the former headquarters of the FLDS where leader Warren Jeffs built himself a 44-room mansion emblazoned with the words ‘Pray and Obey’ where he lived with his 78 wives 

Former FLDS leader Warren Jeffs established his Mormon community in Short Creek in 2000 - six years before his arrest

Former FLDS leader Warren Jeffs established his Mormon community in Short Creek in 2000 – six years before his arrest 

Although residents lived on land they had purchased, they turned the properties over to the FLDS – leaving Jeffs in total control of the town and with the power to run out of town followers he deemed a nuisance – including a large number of the area’s young men.

As the leader, Jeffs also controlled marriages and was the only person able to perform them – as a result of his arrest in 2006, no marriages have taken place in the town for 16 years.

He also amassed a harem of 78 wives, many of whom lived with him in a vast 44-room mansion in Hildale which still stands and is emblazoned with the slogan ‘Pray and Obey’.

Jeffs also acquired a property in Eldorado, Texas, which he named the ‘Yearning for Zion’ ranch and sent hundreds of his followers, among them unaccompanied children, to live there.

The ranch was the scene of an infamous raid in 2008 that saw police descend on the property and remove more than 400 children, most of whom were later returned to their parents.

In 2006, Jeffs was arrested on accomplice to rape charges and was convicted by a jury in St. George, Utah.

Although the convictions were overturned in 2010 due to problems with jury instructions, Jeffs was convicted on two counts of child rape in Texas in 2011 and is currently serving a life sentence.

Like Jeffs, Bateman took wives from the Barlow family – among them jailed Donnae Barlow – while Jeffs’s wives included a number of Jessops.

The Bistline family, from whom Bateman took a number of wives including imprisoned Naomi, is also connected to Jeffs, with acolytes Torrance and LaDell Jr’s father and grandfather both followers of the jailed prophet.

LaDell Bistline Sr and his father F. Lee Bistline were also accused by Arizona authorities of concealing Jeffs’s Cessna plane which they believe was used to transport underage girls.

 

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