Polygamous cult leader had multiple wives who were minors, FBI says

Donnae Barlow arrives at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Barlow and two other women from a polygamous sect near the Arizona-Utah border are charged with kidnapping and impeding a foreseeable prosecution. (AP Photo/Jake Bacon) Jake Bacon/AP

Polygamous cult leader had multiple wives who were minors, FBI says

Brady Knox

December 07, 10:04 PM December 07, 10:04 PM

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A cult leader and self-proclaimed prophet had 20 wives, most of whom were minors, the FBI revealed.

Samuel Bateman, 46, is facing charges of child abuse and destruction of evidence, with the FBI hinting that further charges are on the way. Bateman broke with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in order to establish his own polygamous cult, the Associated Press reported. His male followers allegedly gave him their wives and daughters to take as his own wives, and they were abused if they didn’t obey him fully.


Bateman was arrested in August when a passerby noticed fingers from a child sticking out of a trailer he was hauling across state lines. Inside the trailer, police found three children between the ages of 11 and 14 being kept in squalid conditions. He posted bail but was arrested again after instructing his followers to destroy evidence of his crimes.

Three of the leader’s wives have also been arrested and charged with kidnapping after allegedly taking eight of Bateman’s underage wives from the state’s care.

Bateman now stands accused of pressuring his wives and followers into sex acts, which he called “Godly duties,” and total obedience, saying it was God’s will. The victims of the abuse have largely been uncooperative with authorities.

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