Samuel Bateman: Polygamous ‘prophet’ had more than 20 wives, many of them minors, says FBI | US News

A self-proclaimed “prophet” had more than 20 wives, many of them minors, according to the FBI.

Samuel Rappylee Bateman allegedly told his wives that it was “Heavenly Father’s will” that they engage in sexual acts with him and punished followers who did not treat him as a prophet.

The 46-year-old was a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) until he left to start his own small group near the Arizona-Utah border.

He was financially supported by male followers who also gave up their own wives and children to be Bateman’s wives, according to the FBI.

The office affidavit was filed a day after authorities traced eight girls — who had been under Bateman’s care but were placed in state custody in Arizona — to an Airbnb in Washington state. The girls had run away from their Arizona foster homes, the affidavit said.

The newly released court documents provide new insight into what investigators have uncovered in the case that first went public in August.

It accompanied charges against three of Bateman’s wives – Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow and Moretta Rose Johnson – who are facing charges of kidnapping and impeding a foreseeable prosecution.

Bistline and Barlow are expected to appear in court in Flagstaff, Arizona, while Johnson awaits extradition from Washington state.

The women are alleged to have absconded with eight of Bateman’s children, who have been locked away Arizona state custody earlier this year.

The minors were found last week hundreds of miles apart in Spokane, Washington.

Samuel Bateman's family and followers.  File photo: Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
Samuel Bateman’s family and followers. File photo: Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

Bateman was arrested in August when someone noticed tiny fingers digging into the slot of a trailer that was driving through Flagstaff.

He posted bail but was arrested again and charged with obstructing justice in a federal investigation into children being transported across state lines for sexual activity.

Court documents allege Bateman engaged in child sex trafficking and polygamy, but none of his current charges relate to those allegations.

The most recent allegations do not include sex crimes.

Polygamy is illegal in Arizona but has been decriminalized Utah in 2020.

‘self-proclaimed prophet’

The FBI affidavit filed in the women’s case largely centers on Bateman, who proclaimed himself a prophet in 2019.

Bateman says former FLDS leader Warren Jeffs told him to call down the “Spirit of God upon these people.”

The affidavit details explicit sexual acts that Bateman and his followers performed to fulfill “godlike duties.”

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


Bateman lived in Colorado City, Arizona among a patchwork of devout members of the polyamorous FLDS, former church members, and those who do not practice these beliefs.

Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the mainstream Mormon Church abandoned the practice in the 1890s and now has a strict ban on having multiple wives.

When Bateman was arrested earlier this year, he instructed his followers to obtain passports and delete messages sent through the Signal encrypted messaging system, authorities said.

He asked his followers to publicly confess any indiscretions and shared those confessions widely, according to the FBI affidavit.

Bateman claimed these punishments, which ranged from a “time out” to public shaming and sexual activity, came from the Lord, the affidavit says.

The three children found in the trailer Bateman was hauling through Flagstaff — which had a makeshift toilet, couch, camping chairs and no ventilation — told authorities they had no health or medical needs, a police report said.

None of the girls placed in state custody in Arizona disclosed sexual abuse by Bateman during forensic interviews, although one said he was present during the sexual activity.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GreenLeaf Tw2sl