PHOENIX (AP) — A polygamous sect leader and some of his followers have been indicted for allegedly conspiring to travel across Arizona state lines and get “wives” for him, authorities said Thursday.
A federal grand jury on Wednesday issued a superseding indictment against 47-year-old Samuel Rappylee Bateman of Colorado City, Arizona, and 10 of his followers.
Authorities accuse Bateman of taking more than 20 wives, including 10 girls under the age of 18.
They said Bateman travelled extensively between Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nebraska and he allegedly had sex with the minor girls on a regular basis.
The superseding indictment also charges Bateman with the production of child pornography.
It alleges that in late November 2020, Bateman coordinated group sexual activity in a Colorado Springs hotel room with some of his followers, and that included underage girls.
Bateman was arrested last year and remains in federal custody pending his trial, which is scheduled for March 5, 2024.
Bateman was previously charged with kidnapping, child abuse and tampering with evidence, and he pleaded not guilty.
A call to one of Bateman’s lawyers seeking comment about the case wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.
Bateman and three of his 10 followers charged in the superseding indictment are scheduled to be arraigned Friday in a Phoenix federal court.
Authorities said five others were to have their initial court appearances Thursday in St. George, Utah, while one woman is detained pending trial in Phoenix and another awaits a May 30 detention hearing in Flagstaff, Arizona.