With A&E’s ‘Secrets of Polygamy’ delving deep into the dark reality of fundamentalist religious groups through the eyes of their survivors, we honestly get a documentary series unlike any other. That’s because it carefully incorporates not just archival footage but also exclusive interviews with key figures to really highlight the way sometimes just one sect leader can impact the lives of many. Amongst those to thus be explicitly mentioned in this original was actually FLDS’ Samuel “Sam” Rappylee Bateman — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about him, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Sam Bateman?
It was reportedly back in early 2019 when Colorado City church member Sam’s convoluted hunger for power, money, as well as young girls started getting to him in the worst ways imaginable. According to court documents, this married father of three had told his then-wife in February that “he was going to be a very important man” within their religion as he’d started having intense visions. He essentially indicated he was the succeeding Prophet following the infamous Warren Jeffs, only to then apparently add to it by asserting the latter’s “spirit” had visited him with this “declaration.”
Then there was Sam’s alleged admission at home around the same time about having explicit “feelings” for his then 14-year-old daughter — he wanted to marry, bed, and have a child with her. This youngster told investigators in 2020 that she was terrified when her father said this to her, so he bribed her with two bags of chips plus $50 in cash to keep their conversations a secret. Though he himself told his wife later on, just for her to almost immediately file a restraining order against him before moving out of their home with the kids for good — she left him before he went too far.
Though as time passed by, Sam’s power with the FLDS community grew because he vehemently maintained that Warren was dead, even though the leader is incarcerated in prison at the moment. As per records, he exploited his male followers’ faith by convincing them to give up their own daughters to be his child brides, following which he had control of the girls by telling them to be obedient. If they didn’t do so, he apparently threatened to banish them from salvation, so he ended up having around 20 wives, most of whom were grossly underage — and he had sexual relations with them all.
However, as time passed by, Sam’s power with the FLDS community grew because he vehemently maintained that Warren Jeffs was dead even though the leader is incarcerated in prison at the moment. As per records, he exploited his male followers’ faith by convincing them to give up their own daughters to be his child brides, following which he had control of the girls by telling them to be obedient. If they didn’t do so, he apparently threatened to banish them from salvation, so he ended up having around 20 wives, most of whom were grossly underage — and he had sexual relations with them all.
As per court records, Sam managed to be physical with all his wives by luring them into it through claims of it being a “sacred” ritual for the betterment of all — he incentivized it based on their beliefs. Yet then came August 28, 2022, when he was pulled over on a highway in Flagstaff after several people dialed 911 to report some fingers sticking out of a trailer being carried in the back of a truck. He actually refused to answer any of The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s deputies’ questions, which made this worse once they pried the doors open to uncover three girls between ages 11-14.
These girls all claimed to be Sam’s brides, and they were allegedly being transported to another city altogether, leading him to be arrested as well as soon charged with three counts of child abuse. This incident also drove investigators to raid his residence, vehicles, as well as belongings, from where they uncovered crucial video footage and journals wherein he spoke of all his brides. None of these marriages are legally recognized, but he still called every girl his wife — moreover, through his personal entries, it came to light he often had his elder wives or strangers teach the younger ones how to be in bed.
According to records, Sam orchestrated forms of group sex too, only for them to even be broadcasted or videotaped for fellow followers, making him responsible for child pornography too. Then there’s the fact he’s accused of trading sex with minor girls (his wives) for luxury cars as well as facilitating contact between adults and children via other means, most of which he noted in his journals. This polygamous splinter group was hence eventually charged with 51 federal felonies — including counts of sexual abuse against minors in various forms, sexual abuse in general, plus kidnapping-related charges.
Sam Bateman is Behind Bars Awaiting Trial
Sam has since pleaded not guilty to all allegations against him, but he remains detained without bond awaiting trial despite this being his first alleged legal infraction because of their severity. It appears as if court proceedings concerning his case are scheduled to begin in March 2024, yet we should also mention he actually managed to still lead his group until March 2023 because he was allowed contact. In fact, it turns out he used to Facetime his wives, continue being explicit with them, and had once even ordered one of them to send “intimidating messages to a government witness from outside the community.” His communication privileges with everyone, excluding his lawyers, were thus withdrawn.