The leader of a splinter group of the Fundamentalist LDS Church has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges accusing him of interfering with a federal investigation.
Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, appeared in a federal court in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Thursday. He pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of interfering with a federal investigation. Charging documents allege Bateman had communications sent through the Signal app destroyed.
During Bateman's appearance on Thursday, court records show the judge ordered him detained, declaring him a potential flight risk. A November trial date was scheduled. Bateman's attorney declined to comment when contacted by FOX 13 News.
Bateman was arrested in Colorado City, Ariz., earlier this week when FBI agents raided his home. Court records obtained by FOX 13 News suggest that the case surrounding Bateman involves underage children and abuses. He was arrested two weeks ago on I-40 after Arizona Highway Patrol troopers found a vehicle with several girls inside a locked, enclosed trailer headed toward Phoenix.
Bateman leads a group that broke off from the FLDS Church, which is led by imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs (who himself is serving a life sentence in Texas for charges related to underage marriages). FOX 13 News reported last month that Jeffs has sought to reassert control over his church and those who are still in it, as well as summoning back those who have left.