Case against polygamous sect leader widens with child pornography charges

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SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors have widened their case against the leader of a small polygamous group that resides near the Utah-Arizona border, adding child pornography charges and detailing his sexual encounters with children he took as wives in new charges filed earlier this month.

Sam Bateman is accused of making child pornography in a superseding indictment filed recently. The May 18 document also provides new details about how he took wives as young as 9 years old as he worked to win followers in at least four states to start his own small offshoot group of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

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

The indictment adds to a raft of charges filed against Bateman last year. In December, prosecutors charged Bateman and several of his wives with kidnapping minors and impeding a foreseeable prosecution for helping young girls associated with the group flee Arizona foster care. An FBI affidavit published as part of the case claimed Bateman took more than 20 wives, including 10 girls under the age of 18.

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