Leader of a polygamous group with 20 wives appear in court

RELIGIONS NEWS AGENCY (REDNA) – Court documents reveal the leader of a small polygamous group on the Arizona-Utah border had taken at least 20 wives, most of them minors, and punished followers who did not treat him as a prophet.

The Associated Press reports Samuel Bateman, 46, has pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges and federal charges of tampering with evidence, a case scheduled for January.

Two of his wives appeared in court yesterday charged with kidnapping and impeding a foreseeable prosecution after eight girls associated with the group fled from state foster care. Bateman was a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, until he left in recent years and started his own small offshoot group.

Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream church, but it abandoned the practice in 1890 and now strictly prohibits it.

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