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FBI: Polygamous leader had 20 wives, including minors

Christopher Wray
Posted at 1:12 PM, Dec 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 14:58:13-05

Federal investigators allege in newly released court documents that a man who led a small polygamous group in Arizona reportedly had more than 20 wives, some of whom were minors, including one that was allegedly his teenage daughter.

According to an FBI affidavit obtained by The Washington Post and the Associated Press, Samuel Bateman, who led an offshoot sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), is accused of taking some of his male followers' wives or daughters as his own.

According to court documents, Bateman allegedly also tried to take his own teenage daughter as one of his wives in 2019, The Salt Lake Tribune and The Post reported.

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This undated photo provided by the Coconino County Sheriff's Office shows Samuel Bateman, who faces state child abuse charges, and federal charges of tampering with evidence. Bateman is the leader of a small polygamous group near the Arizona-Utah border. (Coconino County Sheriff's Department via AP)

Bateman was arrested in August near Flagstaff for reportedly towing a box trailer with girls riding unsecured inside, The Tribune and The Post reported.

According to the Associated Press, police were notified when someone allegedly spotted tiny fingers appearing through a gap in the trailer.

He was initially released, but was later arrested for tampering charges after he allegedly asked his followers to delete his Signal account while he was in jail, The Tribune and The Post reported.

During an FBI raid of his home in September, nine girls were removed from Bateman’s compound, The Tribune and The Post reported.

Eight of them briefly disappeared but were recently recovered in Spokane, Washington, the news outlets reported.