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Polygamist leader Samuel Bateman had 20 wives, including minors

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Polygamist leader Samuel Bateman had 20 wives, including minors, according to an affidavit filed in federal court on Friday. Photo courtesy of Coconino County Sheriff's Office
Polygamist leader Samuel Bateman had 20 wives, including minors, according to an affidavit filed in federal court on Friday. Photo courtesy of Coconino County Sheriff's Office

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Polygamist leader Samuel Rappylee Bateman had more than 20 wives, including minors, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Washington.

Bateman pressured followers "including minor children, to engage in sexual acts," claiming he was fulfilling the "heavenly father's will," the affidavit filed on Friday said.

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Bateman was arrested in August in Flagstaff, Arizona, when he was found transporting three minor girls between the ages of 11 and 14 in a trailer.

He plead not guilty after being charged with destroying evidence and obstructing an investigation into the transportation of children across state lines in September, Bateman instructed followers to delete communications and tried to obtain passports for the girls under his care from jail, according to Federal prosecutor Patrick Schneider. He has yet to be charged with sexual abuse.

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Bateman was a member of Warren Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints before splitting off to form his own small splinter group.

Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of two counts of child sexual assault in 2011.

The documents were filed one day after eight girls, who had previously lived with Bateman, were tracked down to an Airbnb in Washington State after fleeing an Arizona group home where they were placed by the state. The eight girls were among nine who were taken into custody on Sept. 14 by the Arizona Department of Child Services, eight of them ended up fleeing the group home on Nov. 27.

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According to the affidavit, none of the girls "disclosed actual abuse by Bateman, but at least one admitted being present and partially nude," during sexual orgies.

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