Polygamist with child brides said it is ‘Heavenly Father’s will’ he sleep with them

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Cult leader Samuel Bateman had 20 wives, most of them children, and said it was the “Heavenly Father’s will” he participate in sex acts with them, according to FBI documents. He took over from Warren Jeffs to lead the now-small polygamous group near the Arizona-Utah border. Bateman said it was the “Heavenly Father’s will” he participate in sex acts with his 20 wives aged as young as nine.

According to a newly filed FBI affidavit, Mr Bateman had also married his own daughter.

The files show the former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also punished followers who did not treat him as a prophet.

He was supported financially by male followers who gave up their own wives and children to be Mr Bateman’s, the document said.

The cult leader was arrested in August when someone spotted small fingers in the gap of a trailer he was hauling through Flagstaff.

The FBI document alleges Mr Bateman engaged in child sex trafficking and polygamy, but none of his current charges relate to those allegations.

The document, filed on Friday, accompanied charges of kidnapping and impeding a foreseeable prosecution against three of Mr Bateman’s wives: Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow and Moretta Rose Johnson.

Ms Bistline and Ms Barlow are scheduled to appear in federal magistrate court in Flagstaff on Wednesday. Ms Johnson is awaiting extradition from Washington state.

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None of the girls placed in state custody in Arizona disclosed sexual abuse by Mr Bateman during forensic interviews, but at least one admitted being present and partially nude” for sex orgies, according to the affidavit.

However, the girls often wrote in journals that were seized by the FBI, and in them, several of the girls referenced intimate interactions with Mr Bateman.

Authorities believe the older girls influenced the younger ones not to talk about Bateman, the FBI said.

On Thursday, a sergeant with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spotted a vehicle driven by one of Bateman’s wives in which all eight of the missing girls were passengers, the affidavit said.

Mr Bateman was again arrested in September following a separate indictment on charges of destroying records in a federal investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The FBI affidavit filed in the cases for Ms Bistline, Ms Barlow and Ms Johnson largely centres on Mr Bateman, who proclaimed himself a prophet in 2019.

Mr Bateman says he was told by former FLDS leader Warren Jeffs to invoke the “Spirit of God on these people.”

The affidavit details explicit sexual acts that Bateman and his followers engaged in to fulfill “Godly duties.”

Mr Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex abuse related to underage marriages.



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