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Feds indict leader in FLDS splinter group following FBI raid

Posted at 9:54 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 16:34:35-04

A federal grand jury has indicted a Colorado City man on charges of destroying records related to an ongoing federal investigation.

The indictment against Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, was unsealed on Wednesday, the day after FBI agents raided his Colorado City home and served a search warrant. He is charged with destruction of records in an official proceeding, tampering with an official proceeding and destruction of records in a federal investigation. The indictment accuses him of deleting communications associated with accounts on the app Signal.

Court records sealing some records indicated the investigation itself involved abuses and underage children.

Bateman is considered the leader of a splinter group of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, FOX 13 News is told. The FLDS Church itself is headed by imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. Since Jeffs went to prison for child sexual assault related to underage marriages, the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., have seen dramatic changes. FLDS members have spread out beyond the communities and ex-members and non-members have moved in. The group has also splintered with others claiming to represent factions.

As FOX 13 News reported last month, a recent edict issued by Jeffs from prison has sought to exert control over those still in the FLDS Church and those who have left.

FOX 13 News first reported on Tuesday that Bateman had been arrested two weeks ago on suspicion of child abuse. He had been stopped on a highway where troopers discovered several children inside a locked, enclosed trailer headed to Phoenix.

Other girls and women were in a vehicle with Bateman, a police report shared with FOX 13 News said. Authorities seized Bateman's cell phone, documents said.

Bateman was scheduled to be arraigned in a federal court in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Thursday. An attorney listed as representing Bateman did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment from FOX 13 News late Wednesday.