The leader of an Arizona-based polygamist cult attempted to bribe his own 14-year-old daughter into marrying him with potato chips, $50 and airplane tickets.
The shocking allegations against Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, came in a new FBI affidavit filed on Friday. Bateman was taken into federal custody in September.
Bateman is also alleged to have told followers that convicted child-rapist and cult leader Warren Jeffs was dead and that he ‘spoke through’ Bateman as a new prophet.
He was arrested after being pulled over by cops while transporting underage girls inside a squalid trailer furnished with a couch and a bucket for a toilet.
Bateman leads a splinter group of the radical Mormon offshoot Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS. His views are considered so extreme that even Jeffs disassociated from him.
Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, is accused by witnesses of ‘marrying’ up to 20 women and girls as young as nine, including his own daughter, according to an FBI affidavit
In 2019, Bateman was returning from a road trip to Canada with his 14-year-old daughter when he told her that he felt as though she was his wife. The teen told advocates in 2020 that her father’s words made her feel scared.
While the pair were stopped at a gas station, Bateman gave his daughter two bags of Doritos, $50 and asked her type of car she would like to drive.
In the FBI documents, Special Agents Dawn A. Martin described that interaction as Bateman’s attempt to bribe his daughter into marrying him.
The document goes on to say that Bateman gave his daughter ‘slobbery’ kisses which his daughter referred to as ‘nasty.’ He then discussed in graphic detail having a child with her.
Bateman later disclosed to his wife that he wanted to marry their daughter, which prompted his wife to leave with the child.
Former followers of the FLDS told the Salt Lake City Tribune in December that following Warren Jeffs’ conviction in 2011, Bateman seized upon the power vacuum and became the group’s leader.
He told followers that the reason that Jeffs were no longer speaking to members was because he was dead ‘or translated,’ Mormon speak for God transitioning a person’s body from mortal to immortal.
Bateman said that Jeffs could only speak through him and that members should reward him with money and new wives.
In reality, investigator Sam Brower said that Jeffs has denounced Bateman in recent correspondence from his jail cell. Brower appeared in the Netflix documentary: Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey.
Women and girls are seen during an August 28 traffic stop in northern Arizona, where police say Bateman was hauling three girls, between the ages of 11 and 14, in a box trailer behind his SUV
An evidence photo shows the trailer Bateman allegedly used to transport underage girls
The squalid trailer was furnished with a couch, camper chairs, and a toilet made from a bucket
The recent affidavit states that Bateman has since gathered ‘approximately 50 followers and more than 20 wives, many of whom are minors, mostly under the age of 15.’
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 ‘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 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.’
Bateman is apparently so extreme that he has been denounced even by former FLDS leader Warren Jeffs (above), a convicted child rapist
The affidavit further alleges that in late 2020, Bateman drove to the Colorado City couple’s home ‘in a large SUV packed with women and girls,’ where he ‘introduced everyone as his wives.’
The youngest of the so-called ‘wives’ was a girl born in 2011, Agent Martin wrote, meaning the girl would have been nine at the oldest.
The affidavit also notes that Bateman owned two Bentleys, though it seems his ‘wives’ traveled in less style.
Bateman’s 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.’
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.
Bateman was later arrested and charged locally with three counts of child abuse.
Federal prosecutors say that while he was being held in the Coconino County Jail in Flagstaff on those local charged, 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 posted 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, in reference to his instructions to his followers.
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.
Bateman has not been charged with sex crimes against children, though the new FBI affidavit said the FBI has probable cause to believe he and others transported minors between Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska to engage in illicit sexual conduct between May 2020 and November 2021.
Three girls embrace before they are removed from the home of Samuel Bateman, following his arrest in Colorado City, Arizona, on September 14. Seven were removed from the Bateman home, as well as two others from another house
Bateman’s attorney, Adam Zickerman, in September cautioned against inferring the federal case was about religious persecution, though he didn’t specify Bateman’s faith or say if he practices polygamy. Zickerman said Bateman is not a danger to the community.
Schneider cited a pretrial services report in saying that Bateman had relationships with multiple women but also didn’t mention whether Bateman belonged to any polygamous groups.
Both the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona and Zickerman declined to comment following a September court hearing, as did two women who were sitting in the gallery and met with Zickerman.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Camille Bibles ordered that Bateman remain behind bars while the case winds through the courts. She noted Bateman is a pilot and survivalist who has followers and international contacts who might help with financial or other resources on a moment’s notice. She said she also was concerned about young girls in vulnerable positions.
‘Courts have a tremendous interest in protecting people who can´t protect themselves,’ she said.
Bateman listed a mailing address in Colorado City, where a patchwork of devout members of the polygamous FLDS, ex-church members and those who don´t practice the beliefs live. Both Colorado City and its sister community of Hildale, Utah, have seen significant cultural shifts in recent years.
The FLDS group run by imprisoned leader Jeffs has lost much of its control over the communities. Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex abuse related to underage marriages.
Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the mainstream church abandoned the practice in 1890 and now strictly prohibits it.