An Arizona man reportedly took as many as 20 "wives" as part of a polygamous arrangement stemming from his fundamentalist Mormon faith, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is claiming.
Several years ago Samuel Bateman "began gathering young women, and then girls, and then the adult wives of his male followers as his own wives," according to an FBI affidavit obtained by the St. Louis Tribune this week.
The affidavit was filed following the recovery of several girls from homes in Spokane, Wash., following their disappearance from safe houses in Phoenix. The girls had previously been removed from Bateman's multiple homes to the safe houses.
The FBI's affidavit claims that Bateman, as part of his Mormon offshoot religion, possesses "approximately 50 followers and more than 20 wives, many of whom are minors, mostly under the age of 15.”
Authorities reportedly began receiving calls from Bateman's neighbors regarding his alleged illegal activities as early as late November of 2020.
He was first arrested in August of this year, though according to the Tribune, the arrest stemmed not from any of the allegations in the affidavit, but rather because he was "towing a box trailer with girls riding unsecured inside."