Arizona man accused of child abuse as leader of polygamous cult, FBI says

Federal investigators in Arizona discovered that a man arrested in August for kidnapping was head of a polygamous religious cult and had at least 20 “wives”, most of them children.

Samuel Rappylee Bateman, an erstwhile member of the Mormon Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, set up an offshoot sect and persuaded male followers to surrender their wives and daughters, court papers filed in Flagstaff said.

Bateman, 46, of Colorado City, would beat those who did not greet him as a prophet, the FBI indictment alleges. He is also alleged to have engaged in child sex trafficking with the assistance of several of his wives.

The agency says Bateman insisted it was “Heavenly Father’s will” that he engage in sex acts with them. An FBI special agent, Dawn Martin said in the affidavit it was Bateman’s position that the girls had “sacrificed their virtue for the Lord

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