Accused polygamous “cult” leader Samuel Bateman’s next indictment will include new charges against him—and may feature additional co-defendants, prosecutors revealed in a filing on Tuesday.
“The United States anticipates a superseding indictment within the next 90 days, which would include additional charges, and could include additional defendants,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Dimitra H. Sampson wrote in a filing seeking to push any potential trial back another year.
Bateman, a self-proclaimed prophet and a leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS), has been charged in a federal indictment since September 2022, when prosecutors accused the Arizona man attempting to obstruct justice. The case has expanded dramatically in the ensuing months.
Prosecutors say Bateman has upwards of 20 wives, including “many” minors under the age of 15, but he is not charged with sex trafficking or polygamy. Bateman’s initial indictment charged him, and him alone, with destroying official records in an official proceeding, tampering with an official proceeding and destroying records in a federal investigation. His first superseding indictment tacked on three accused co-conspirators: Bateman’s wives Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow, and Moretta Rose Johnson.
That superseding indictment also ratcheted up the charges to include additional obstruction-related counts and a federal kidnapping charge.
Prosecutors revealed little about what the next indictment may have in store, but court papers indicate that the government believes Bateman had been involved in numerous sexually abusive relationships.
“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,” the criminal complaint against his co-defendants alleges.
In 2019, Bateman declared himself a prophet in the style of FLDS’s former leader Warren Jeffs, known to Bateman and his followers as “Uncle Warren,” prosecutors say. Like Bateman, Jeffs also had numerous wives: 78, by the government’s count. Jeffs had been featured on the FBI’s Most Wanted List before his capture in 2006, during a routine traffic stop.
Jeffs is now serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting some of his minor wives.
In August 2022, Bateman also was pulled over for a fateful traffic stop, during which investigators say they found him with three young girls between the ages of 11 and 14, makeshift seats and a Porta-Potty.
In bodycam footage released earlier this year, Bateman could be heard saying to deputies, “I’ll tell you right now, I’m not going to tell you anything.”
On Feb. 6, 2023, Senior U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell formally designated Bateman’s case complex, and the government has argued that the parties need time to sift through “voluminous” evidence.
“There are four co-defendants in this case,” prosecutors wrote. “Discovery is voluminous and includes hours of video visits and calls from Mr. Bateman to others. Moreover, this case is part of a larger investigation of Mr. Bateman (and potentially others) which began in 2020.”
The judge has granted multiple adjournments of the trial date. Trial was initially scheduled for Nov. 8, 2022, roughly two months from his first indictment. That was later reset until Jan. 10, 2023, then continued again until March 14, 2023.
If the government’s latest request for an adjournment is accepted, trial will be adjourned again for more than a year: March 5, 2024.
Read the filing below:
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