PHOENIX (AP) — Members of a small polygamous group accused of kid intercourse abuse of underage women who the group’s chief claimed as brides are anticipated to look in federal court docket on Friday.
Sam Bateman and the three girls followers scheduled to look for his or her arraignment have been arrested final yr and charged with kidnapping and impeding a federal investigation. Prosecutors earlier this month expanded the group’s costs.
Now 11 members of Bateman’s group face 51 felony counts for transporting kids throughout state traces to facilitate sexual exercise, recording it, destroying proof and witness tampering.
The group’s look in court docket is the most recent improvement in a sprawling federal investigation spanning not less than 5 states that grew to become public final fall after authorities raided Bateman’s compound in Colorado Metropolis, Arizona. The location was lengthy house to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, recognized by its acronym FLDS.
Colorado Metropolis and Hildale — an adjoining city throughout the Utah border — have modified dramatically for the reason that group’s prophet, Warren Jeffs, was arrested greater than a decade in the past. However the case in opposition to Bateman serves as a reminder that its legacy stays and continues to evolve.
In court docket filings, investigators have alleged that Bateman, 47, persuaded followers to interrupt off from the FLDS Church, convincing them that he was a prophet who succeeded Jeffs and was “doing ‘Uncle Warren’s’ will.”
Bateman has been accused of taking not less than 20 wives, together with many minors as younger as 8 and 9 years previous. However costs have largely pertained to the choice by him and his grownup followers to take the minors throughout state traces — together with at one level breaking them out of Arizona foster care — and impeding the investigation.
A name to one among Bateman’s attorneys searching for remark was not returned Thursday.
The FLDS, from which Bateman originated, is itself a breakaway sect of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, broadly often called the Mormon Church. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream church, however it deserted the follow in 1890 and now strictly prohibits it.
An indictment revealed earlier in Could says Bateman traveled extensively between Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nebraska and allegedly had intercourse with the minor women frequently. It additionally costs Bateman with recording a number of the sexual exercise, alleging some photos might have been transmitted throughout state traces through digital units.
Counting on journals, day planners and textual content messages, it says Bateman initiated sexual encounters with teams of followers in resort rooms, together with one which started with a spiritual rite-inspired “washing of the toes.” A woman, who the indictment describes as 9 or 10 years previous, referred to as the sexual encounters “positively terrifying.”
The indictment additionally claims a number of female and male followers denied the allegations of abuse, together with of their very own kids, when interviewed by the Arizona Division of Youngster Security.
Bateman was arrested final yr and stays in federal custody pending his trial, which is scheduled for March 5, 2024. He beforehand pleaded not responsible to state and federal costs accusing him of kidnapping, baby abuse and tampering with proof.
Metz reported from Salt Lake Metropolis.