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Body-cam video shows arrest of accused polygamist leader in Flagstaff

Samuel Bateman was charged after authorities say three young girls were found in the back of a trailer.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The video in the player above may be disturbing to some people. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Newly obtained body camera footage shows the arrest of a self-proclaimed prophet, who police say was carrying three underage girls in the back of an enclosed trailer.

The video shows the perspectives of Flagstaff Police officers and Coconino County Sheriff Deputies in Flagstaff. 

It was taken in late August after reports of witnesses calling 911 saying they saw small fingers sticking out of and poking out of the trailer's rear door. The video shows law enforcement with guns warning the people inside that they would open the door. Once they did, they realized three young girls, ages 11 to 14, were inside.

When police tried to question the young girls, one woman seen in a maroon dress stepped in. A deputy heard on the body camera footage saying that woman is telling the others not to talk.

Then an officer noticed what the young girls had on their fingers. Saying, “The 14-year-old she had a ring on her finger, on her ring finger… They’ve all kind of, like, hidden those. I mean, we know what’s going on here.”

The person who police was driving the truck hauling the trailer was Samuel Bateman. Federal court documents claim Bateman is a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A radical religious group that separated from the modern-day LDS church.  

Bateman reportedly had dozens of followers and more than 20 wives, many of whom were minors. Those documents accuse Bateman of sexually abusing minors and trafficking them across state lines.

The body-camera footage shows law enforcement questioning Bateman, who refuses to answer how many people are inside the trailer and, at one point, tells an officer to calm down. Bateman is then seen briefly resisting detainment by law enforcement.

He was charged with three counts of child abuse and is currently behind bars in Florence, Arizona.

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