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FLDS sect leader accused of destroying records

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The FBI searches FLDS sect leader Samuel Bateman’s properties in Colorado City, Ariz., on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

The FBI searches FLDS sect leader Samuel Bateman’s properties in Colorado City, Ariz., on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. A federal indictment against Bateman has been unsealed, accusing him of destroying records in an attempt to thwart an investigation.

St. George News

A federal indictment against a sect leader of the polygamous Fundamentalist LDS Church who has a home in Colorado City, Arizona, has been unsealed.

Samuel Rappylee Bateman, 46, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 6 with destruction of records in an official proceeding, tampering with an official proceeding and destruction of records in a federal investigation.

Court documents allege that Bateman and others "did knowingly alter, destroy mutilate and conceal records, that is, electronic communications," on the Signal app — including deleting or attempting to delete electronic communications — in an effort to disrupt an investigation, criminal proceeding and prosecution.

The indictment was unsealed Wednesday following Bateman's initial appearance in federal court in Flagstaff. He is scheduled to be back in federal court on Thursday for an arraignment and detention hearing.

Although documents unsealed Wednesday do not provide details as to what communication was potentially deleted or what investigation it may have affected, one of the orders issued by the judge notes that the case involves either physical or sexual abuse of a child.

Bateman was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents following several raids in the Arizona town of Colorado City, just across from the Utah border town of Hildale.