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Polygamist FLDS sect leader pleads guilty in plot to orchestrate sex with underage girls



The leader of a polygamous group near the Arizona-Utah border pleaded guilty Monday to transporting young girls across state lines for sex and other crimes.

Samuel Bateman, the founder of a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints offshoot, confessed to taking underage girls as his brides, engaging in sexual activity with them and arranging orgies — often involving his child brides.

According to the plea agreement, entered in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, the self-proclaimed prophet also admitted to conspiring to free and kidnap underage girls who had been taken into Arizona state custody.

The agreement recommends a sentence between 20 and 50 years in prison. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on July 15.

Bateman, 48, was initially arrested in August 2022 near Flagstaff. Ariz., after authorities found three young girls between the ages of 11 and 14 locked inside a cargo trailer, which was attached to his vehicle and had a makeshift toilet, a sofa, and camping chairs — with no ventilation.

A person spotted the girls, who were wearing wedding rings, and later alerted authorities.

He posted bond but was arrested again the following month and charged with three counts of destroying or attempting to destroy records and tampering with criminal proceedings during an investigation on whether he was transporting minors across state lines for sexual activity.

Federal authorities say Bateman was financially supported by male members of his group who offered their wives and daughters to be his wives.

According to the FBI, Bateman had more than 20 wives — at least 10 of them under the age of 18. The youngest was just 9 years old.

Bateman is accused of traveling frequently between Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nebraska and having sex with minors regularly. He also forced his wives to have sex with him and his male followers in group sex activities he referred to as an “atonement” ceremony, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Earlier last month, one of his followers became the first man convicted in what authorities say was a years-long plot to orchestrate sexual acts involving children.

Moroni Johnson, a Colorado City businessman, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Bateman to transport underage girls over state lines. He faces 10 years to life in prison.

Four of Bateman’s wives have also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit tampering with an official proceeding.

With Wire News Services

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