Polygamous Arizona leader charged with additional crimes against children

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COLORADO CITY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A grand jury has indicted an Arizona polygamous sect leader and 10 of his followers for charges of sex with minors, child pornography and gathering underage wives. Officials say the polygamous leader, 47-year-old Samuel Bateman, began finding wives, including young girls, while traveling from Nebraska, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. Ten of Bateman’s wives were girls under the age of 18, and he regularly had sex with them, investigators said.

In an indictment released on Wednesday, authorities said Bateman is also facing allegations of child porn. Authorities say in late Nov. 2020, Bateman gathered some followers for sex in a hotel room in Colorado City, Colorado, and video called a follower in Arizona. The video reportedly showed a naked child.

Bateman and three co-conspirators, Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow and Moretta Rose Johnson, are also accused of kidnapping and tampering. Investigators say the self-proclaimed polygamous leader and the three women took children from the Arizona Department of Child Safety and took off across state lines to evade police. If found guilty of kidnapping, they could face up to life in prison.

Bateman was previously charged in Sept. 2022 for tampering and destroying records as authorities investigated his community in Colorado City, Arizona, near the Utah-Arizona state line. He is an ex-member of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who started his own breakaway group several years ago after leader Warren Jeffs was sent to prison.

Content retrieved from: https://www.azfamily.com/2023/05/25/polygamous-arizona-leader-charged-with-additional-crimes-against-children/.

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