Eight young girls who were forced to marry a Mormon prophet were found together at an Airbnb in Spokane, Washington. Authorities say the underage girls were taken into protective custody in Arizona following the arrest of Samuel Rappylee Bateman.
46 Federal investigators found the eight girls remained in contact with their older sister-wives who colluded with Bateman to help them escape.
Meanwhile, Bateman is accused of sex trafficking these ‘young girls’ between Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska. He is also said to have married up to 20 women and young girls.
Authorities say he sex trafficked these ‘young girls’ between Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska.
He has been in federal custody on obstruction charges since his September arrest, which unfolded after Bateman was pulled over by cops while transporting underage girls inside a squalid trailer furnished with a couch and a bucket for a toilet.
None of the young girls have since admitted to federal investigators that they were sexually abused by Bateman, the head of a Mormon offshoot called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS.
But investigators found that in their journals, the girls would describe ‘sleeping with Bateman, kissing him and touching him.’
They now believe that the young girls were coached by some of the older wives not to speak with investigators.
Still, the girls are said to have remained in contact with their older sister-wives, who worked with Bateman to help them escape and ‘bring them home.’
Bateman has gained a following since taking over the FLDS as its prophet from Warren Jeffs, a convicted child rapist.
Evidence cited in the affidavit includes recordings of Bateman himself, speaking to a couple in Colorado City, Arizona, who do outreach to the polygamy community there and are filming a documentary.
In one example cited in the document, Bateman told the couple that the ‘Heavenly Father’ had instructed him in early November 2021 to ‘give the most precious thing he has, his girls’ virtue,’ to three of his adult male followers.
Bateman then allegedly watched as the three men had sex with his daughters, one of whom was just 12, according to the affidavit.
Bateman also allegedly commented that the girls had ‘sacrificed their virtue for the Lord,’ and went on to say: ‘God will fix their bodies and put the membrane back in their body. I’ve never had more confidence in doing his will. It’s all out of love.’
His initial encounter with the law came in August, when he was pulled over by a state trooper in northern Arizona towing a box trailer ‘full of people including children,’ according to AZFamily.com.
The trooper saw ‘children’s small fingers moving in the gap of the rear trailer door’ as he pulled up behind the trailer, according to a police statement. Police said there were three girls in the trailer, all between the ages of 11 and 14 years old, along with a couch, camper chairs, and a toilet made from a bucket. With Bateman in the SUV towing the trailer were two women and two girls under the age of 15.
The Mormon prophet was then arrested and charged locally with three counts of child abuse.
While he was being held in the Coconino County Jail in Flagstaff, authorities say, he talked to his supporters in Colorado City and instructed them to delete communications sent through the encrypted messaging app Signal, and demanded all women and girls obtain passports.
Bateman was able to post bond on the state charges, but weeks later he was hit with a federal indictment charging him with three counts of destroying or attempting to destroy records and tampering with criminal proceedings.He pleaded not guilty in U.S. Magistrate Court in Flagstaff.
Federal prosecutor Patrick Schneider said in September that the state child welfare agency had removed children from Bateman’s home in Colorado City, where the FBI had recently served a search warrant.