Polygamist Cult Leader Who Has More Than 20 Wives Allegedly Married His Own Daughter

Samuel Rappylee Bateman, who was arrested in September 2022 on federal charges, is accused of child abuse and child sex trafficking.

December 14, 2022
Samuel Rappylee Bateman, pictured here in his mugshot, was booked into jail on three counts of child abuse.

Samuel Rappylee Bateman, a self-proclaimed “prophet” who is a leader of an offshoot of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, allegedly has over 20 wives, including minors who are under 15 years of age.

Photo by: Coconino County Sheriff's Office

Coconino County Sheriff's Office

Samuel Rappylee Bateman, a self-proclaimed “prophet” who is a leader of an offshoot of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, allegedly has over 20 wives, including minors who are under 15 years of age. One is his own 9-year-old daughter, according to the FBI in an affidavit that was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Washington on Dec. 2, 2022.

The 46-year-old man has been taken into federal custody in Arizona. He was arrested in August after he was caught transporting a trailer with three young girls between the ages of 11 and 14. He posted bail in that incident, but then in September, Bateman was charged with destroying records and obstruction of justice after he asked his followers to delete his Signal phone app that he used as a primary communication tool for his many wives and followers. There was an ongoing investigation into whether children were being taken for sexual activity across state lines, according to the BBC. Bateman is also facing state-level child abuse charges.

NBC News reported that, on Sept. 14, nine girls were removed from the cult and placed with the Arizona Department of Child Services. The girls didn’t disclose “actual sexual abuse by Bateman, but at least one admitted being present and partially nude” for sex orgies, according to the FBI affidavit.

Eight of those girls ran away from the group on Nov. 27, and then a police sergeant spotted one of Bateman’s wives driving a car with all eight of the missing girls as her passengers. That wife is listed as a defendant in the case for kidnapping and obstruction.

The Washington Post reported that Bateman began exploring polygamy in 2019. At the time, he was married to one woman, and they shared a 14-year-old daughter. One day, while driving in the car with his teen daughter, he told her that he felt like she was his wife and might make her have a child with him. When he told his wife about this plan, she moved out and took their daughter with her.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Bateman started gathering wives that next spring. He chose young women, underage girls, and even adult wives of his followers to become his wives. He arranged and participated in group sex acts with them.

The FBI affidavit alleges that Bateman told a couple that he had been instructed by God to “give the most precious thing he has, his girls’ virtue,” to three adult male followers, and he intended to watch.

FBI Special Agent Dawn A. Martin stated that Bateman claimed to sacrifice the children’s virtue for the lord. “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 allegedly said.

Adam Zickerman, Bateman’s attorney, said in a statement, “This case continues to appear to be a quest for religious persecution; and Mr. Bateman maintains his innocence throughout it.”

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