In an incident reported from Arizona in the United States, a man claiming to be a Prophet has reportedly married as many as 20 women, including his own daughter.
The man identified as 46-year-old Samuel Rappylee Bateman, many of whose wives are below the age of 15 years, and a few as young as 9 years. He is now wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). An affidavit filed by the FBI on December 2 accused Bateman of indulging in incest, group sex acts involving adults and children and child sex trafficking.
The accused heads an offshoot group of the Mormon Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. Following the FBI raids on his two abodes in Colorado city in September, Bateman has been lodged in an Arizona jail. The FBI officials searched for evidence against the accused for underage marriages or sexual relationships between adults and children.
As per the affidavit filed by the FBI, “Bateman “began to proclaim he was a prophet” in 2019 and gained about 50 followers and over 20 wives.”
In 2019, Bateman’s family told the investigators that the man had felt the need to take his teenage daughter as his wife. It is to be noted that the accused hasn’t been charged with sexual abuse. However, the affidavit claims that the FBI has grounds to believe that the man and his associates transported minors to cities and states including Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska to engage in illicit sexual acts between May 2020 to November 2021.
The investigating agent Dawn A. Martin, was provided with audio from November 2021, in which the accused said, “Heavenly Father” had instructed him to “give the most precious thing he has, his girls’ virtue,” to three of his adult male followers.
Bateman then watched the three followers have sex with his daughters. One of the girls was only 12 years at the time of the incident. The accused allegedly further claimed that his daughters had sacrificed their virtue for the lord. “God will fix their bodies and put the membrane back in their body. I’ve never had more confidence in doing his will. It’s all out of love,” Martin quoted the accused as saying.
The affidavit was filed in a federal court in Spokane, Washington, where eight girls were rescued from Bateman’s house by the Arizona Department of Child Safety on December 1.
While the case was being heard in September, Bateman’s counsel, Adam Zickerman cautioned against giving a religious angle to the issue, however, he refrained from stating whether the accused practised polygamy.
Hearing the case US Magistrate Judge Camille Bibles remained in jail until the matter is resolved. The judge stated that Bateman had connections if he needed help. The judge further expressed concerns regarding the safety of girls. “Courts have a tremendous interest in protecting people who can’t protect themselves,” the New York Post quoted the judge as saying.