Polygamy leader Samuel Bateman has been accused of abusing his followers. These 7 stories explain it.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, eight girls from shelters near Phoenix that were being cared for by Arizona youth welfare officers disappeared. As of Thursday this week they were back in custody – and two young women had been arrested accused of kidnapping them along with a third woman, who was arrested the next day.

All 11 women and girls were taken as wives by self-proclaimed prophet Samuel Bateman, the FBI claims, when he ran a small offshoot of the polygamous fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Here’s a roundup of seven Salt Lake Tribune stories examining how the 46-year-old Bateman rose to power in the group, why he was soon on the FBI’s radar, and how arrests have scattered his supporters.

A raid, and girls removed

On Aug. 28, after Bateman was stopped near Flagstaff, authorities discovered three young girls in a locked cargo trailer he was towing, according to Arizona prosecutors. He was charged with three counts of child molestation, but he posted bail and was released.

Then, early on September 13, FBI agents, guns drawn, surrounded one of his homes near the Arizona-Utah state line. According to a copy of her search warrant provided to The Tribune, agents were looking for evidence of marriage or sexual relations between adults and children.

Bateman was arrested when the home in Colorado City, Arizona, and another in the city were searched and has been in custody ever since. In a new indictment, federal prosecutors allege that Bateman destroyed electronic communications on messaging app Signal on the day of the disruption “with intent to compromise their integrity and availability for use in a foreseeable criminal proceeding.”

On the day of the raid, Child Services officers took nine girls, ages 11 to 16, away briefly and then returned them, but took them into state custody the next day.

Continue reading: Girls abducted from homes in historically polygamous communities after the FBI searched for evidence of underage marriages

Eight girls disappear

On Nov. 27, Arizona law enforcement listed eight of the nine girls abducted from Colorado City as “missing youths,” according to police files.

Four days later, court documents say, the Spokane County sheriff’s deputy found all eight girls outside an Airbnb in Spokane, Washington, in a vehicle being driven by a 19-year-old woman. Also on Thursday, a 24-year-old woman was arrested in Colorado City; The FBI described both women as wives of Bateman. Federal court records show a third woman, described by the FBI as a young adult, was arrested the next day.

Continue reading: Officials took away girls from a historically polygamous community on the Utah-Arizona border. Then the girls disappeared.

Disturbing allegations uncovered

In an affidavit filed Dec. 2 in federal court in Spokane, the FBI alleged that Bateman began collecting multiple wives in 2020 — first young women, then girls, and then the adult wives of his male followers. He later directed and participated in group sex acts with them, an agent claimed.

The affidavit also revealed that in late 2020, people in Colorado City had begun contacting law enforcement about Bateman amid concerns about his relationships with young girls.

Continue reading: Polygamy leader Samuel Bateman had 20 wives, according to the FBI

The story behind the girls’ disappearance

The affidavit also revealed that Bateman had stayed in touch — through video calls from behind bars — with the girls who disappeared from group homes and the young adult wives as they traveled in groups across states.

The girls were found after the credit card used to rent the Spokane Airbnb was traced to a business linked to the FLDS affiliate.

Continue reading: What happened to Bateman’s underage wives since his arrest

Bateman’s rise to influence

Bateman was raised in the FLDS faith in Colorado City, known along with Hildale, Utah as Short Creek, the polygamous sect’s traditional home base. After suffering serious injuries in a car accident as a young adult, he became even stricter in his religious beliefs, several people told The Tribune.

(Victoria Cooke) Samuel Bateman, Jami Cooke and Victoria Cooke are pictured after a 1999 accident.

In 2019, some of Bateman’s supporters said he began saying he succeeded FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who is in prison for sexually assaulting girls he married.

As Bateman’s group established itself, he was often spotted in a white leather jacket, driving in a motorcade made up of two Bentleys wedged between two Range Rovers on the red, dusty roads of Short Creek.

Continue reading: He told FLDS supporters that Warren Jeffs was dead. Then Samuel Bateman said he was their prophet now.

Bateman’s goals – as seen in his house

Bateman’s goal of owning Bentleys and Range Rovers was represented by images of the vehicles on a plaque that hung in his small green home in Colorado City. Other images and vision boards reflected his additional dreams of financial success, such as: B. a 40 bedroom mansion.

Bateman’s supporters allowed a Tribune photographer to document what this house and the big blue house, located two blocks away, looked like after FBI agents spent the day searching the apartments.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A dream board at Samuel Bateman’s home in Colorado City, Arizona on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

Continue reading: A look inside homes searched by federal agents looking for evidence of underage marriages in the FLDS splinter group

“We want to come with you”

Supporters also allowed a Tribune photographer to document notes they wrote for Bateman after his arrest in September.

“We want to accompany you everywhere,” read one. “How do you feel about that?”

Continue reading: With their polygamous prophet in prison, his followers wrote these questions to ask Samuel Bateman

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Following his arrest, supporters of Samuel Bateman wrote down questions to ask their leader in a phone call from prison in Colorado City, Arizona on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/12/09/polygamous-leader-samuel-bateman/ Polygamy leader Samuel Bateman has been accused of abusing his followers. These 7 stories explain it.

Justin Scacco

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