SALT LAKE CITY – A self-proclaimed Utah prophet who led a doomsday cult and secretly married young girls because of his belief in polygamy has been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison.
Samuel Shaffer, 35, was convicted Wednesday in the small center of the city of Manti, after pleading guilty to a felony count of child sodomy, the Desert News reported .
Other charges were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea, including bigamy, lewdness involving a child and an additional sodomy count.
Shaffer was charged in December 2017 after the police raided a remote desert compound in Iron County and found four girls. He was accused of abusing an 8-year-old girl with regard to a member of his group with the name Knights of the Crystal Knife.
His fellow self-proclaimed prophet, John Coltharp, 34, married the other two young girls. Coltharp pled guilty to sodomy and child bigamy charges earlier this month. His sentencing is scheduled for August.
During the hearing Wednesday, Shaffer told Judge Marvin Bagley, he had hoped that having a family and the parent with the child.
“I sincerely believed that child marriage is a good principle of God. And I’ve seen the consequences of what has happened, and I know that I should not have done it now,” Shaffer said. “But I sincerely believed that the practice at the time.”
Shaffer was convicted in the last month at least 26 years in prison after pleading guilty to child rape and abuse charges. The new sentence, non-renewal of his term of imprisonment.
“I am not aware of any religion in this world that justifies an adult has a sexual relationship with an 8-year-old girl,” the judge said. “Certainly, it is a violation of Utah law.”
Information: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com