Arizona polygamous sect leader goes on trial in 2024

The trial for a polygamous sect leader charged with kidnapping and evidence tampering in an investigation in his community on the Utah-Arizona state line has been postponed until 2024.

Samuel Bateman had previously been scheduled to go to trial next month, but a judge granted the postponement Friday after prosecutors said they expect more charges to be filed in the case within the next three months.

Bateman’s trial was moved to March 5, 2024.

He faces federal and state charges in Arizona, including child abuse, obstructing a federal investigation and aiding in kidnapping girls who were placed in the state child welfare agency after his arrest earlier this year. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Federal authorities also have accused Bateman of taking more than 20 wives, including underage girls, though he does not face any charges directly related to that accusation.

Bateman and his followers practice polygamy, a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The faith known widely as the Mormon church abandoned the practice in 1890 and now strictly prohibits it.

Bateman, who remains jailed until his trial, lived in Colorado City, Arizona.

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A leader of a small polygamous group on the Arizona-Utah line pleaded not guilty on Sept. 15 to federal charges of tampering with evidence, weeks after being stopped on a highway with young girls in an enclosed trailer. (Coconino County Court Records)

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Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, of Colorado City, Arizona, is accused of the transportation of minors in interstate commerce to engage in criminal sexual activity. (Coconino County Sheriff's Office)