Polygamous leader made sexually explicit calls from jail to child wives, prosecutors say

Mar 24, 2023, 2:43 PM | Updated: 2:45 pm


FILE photo

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — A polygamous leader from Colorado City currently facing federal charges for the alleged kidnaping of eight underage girls will have his communications restricted while in custody after being accused of not only trying to obstruct justice while using jail phones, but was also engaging in sexually explicit conversations with underage girls.

Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 6 with destruction of records in an official proceeding, tampering with an official proceeding and destruction of records in a federal investigation. A superseding indictment on Dec. 14 included additional charges of tamping with an official proceeding, conspiracy to tamper with an official proceeding, kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap.

Three women — Donnae Barlow, 24, Moretta Rose Johnson, 19, and Naomi Bistline, age not available — were also charged in December with obstructing a federal prosecution and kidnapping in connection with Bateman’s case.

Documents released in federal court earlier this month outline what Bateman had allegedly been doing after his arrest and while incarcerated in Arizona.

Bateman “is a self-proclaimed prophet” of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, federal prosecutors state in court records. “He has approximately 50 followers and over 20 wives, nine of whom are minors currently between the ages of 12 and 16. Bateman allegedly has ‘impressions of Heavenly Father’s will’ to encourage his followers, including the minor children, to engage in sexual acts and relies on that submission to do his own will.”

Investigators believe Bateman helped facilitate the transportation of girls across state lines to engage in sexual activity starting about May 2020.

On Aug. 28, Bateman was arrested after Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say he was towing a box trailer with three girls inside. He was indicted on Sept. 1 by a Coconino County grand jury with three counts of child abuse.

After Bateman’s arrest, nine girls — “all believed to be wives of Bateman” — were taken into Arizona Department of Child Services custody on Sept. 14, court documents state. Bateman, however, while incarcerated, was allegedly able to help coordinate with three of his adult wives — while using the jail’s video call system — in getting eight of the children out of state custody. Those girls were later found by police in Spokane, Washington, on Dec. 1.

Furthermore, prosecutors say in November, while still in custody, Bateman also “brazenly engaged in explicit sexual conversations” with two girls, ages 13 and 16, that he claims are his wives, while using the jail’s call system, court documents allege.

“On the same day Bateman made sexual comments to (the girls), he also directed some of his wives to send intimidating messages to (a) government witness,” according to the documents. “Bateman asked one of his wives to send (the witness) a verse of scripture from Doctrine and Covenants Section 121, which states in part: ‘Wo unto all those that discomfort my people, and drive, and murder, and testify against them, saith the Lord of Hosts; a generation of vipers shall not escape the damnation of hell.'”

He also instructed his wife to tell the witness “that she picked the wrong religion to hate” and that he guarantees “cancer already forming in their bodies,” according to court documents.

On Nov. 29, all of Bateman’s jailhouse communication privileges were suspended. He was only allowed to call his attorneys.

Then on March 17, federal prosecutors and Bateman’s defense attorneys reached an agreement regarding video visits and correspondence.

Bateman is now permitted to call his four sons. He is allowed to make video calls to six women, but only one at a time and during designated days and times, according to the stipulation. And he is allowed to send letters, but only after they have been reviewed by jail staff and “only if the sender and recipient of the mail is clearly identified, and messages are not being passed to others,” court documents state. He cannot communicate with his alleged child victims or co-defendants.

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Polygamous leader made sexually explicit calls from jail to child wives, prosecutors say