Women tied to polygamist sect charged in connection to 8 girls kidnapped from Arizona custody




  • In US
  • 2022-12-09 03:20:36Z
  • By AZCentral | The Arizona Republic

One of the women who was in the Arizona courtroom to support polygamist sect leader Samuel Rappylee Bateman during an Oct. 7 hearing is now facing federal charges of her own.

The FBI has accused Naomi Bistline, along with two other women believed to be Bateman's wives, Donnae Barlow and Moretta Rose Johnson, all with kidnapping and obstruction of justice, in a related child safety case involving Bateman.

Both Bistline and Barlow appeared in federal magistrate court in Flagstaff Wednesday morning.

Federal prosecutors alleged in court that Bistline and Barlow were directly involved in the Nov. 27 disappearance of eight girls who were originally removed from the community following Bateman's arrest in August and placed in the custody of Arizona Department of Child Safety. The children were found last week in Spokane, Washington.

In court Wednesday, federal prosecutors claimed that Bistline and Barlow were in frequent contact with Bateman through video calls between Nov. 27 and Nov. 29 during which time they claim he instructed them to retrieve the children and reunify the family.

FBA affadavit:FBI releases details of alleged sexual abuse of 10 minors in Arizona polygamist case

Barlow's defense attorney Roberta McVickers presented Barlow's actions as that of a naive mother who was just trying to help family members that she thought were in trouble.

McVickers explained that Barlow, with a seventh-grade homeschool education, has a very limited understanding of the legal system and was previously unaware of the importance of abiding by court orders when she made contact with her young family members in this case. Moving forward, Barlow is aware she must follow the court's instruction, McVickers said.

Donnae Barlow arrives at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Donnae Barlow arrives at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff, Ariz.  

In addition to a lack of criminal history and personal resources, Barlow needs to care for her 2-year-old disabled child, who requires 24-hour care and is currently being cared for by Barlow's sister, who takes care of her own child with the same condition, according to McVickers.

Ultimately, Judge Camille D. Bibles determined Barlow could reasonably be considered a flight risk or danger to the community and ruled she would remain in federal custody for the remainder of her case. She will be back in court next Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

Bistline will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, pending the completion of a home assessment, and will reappear in federal court next Monday for a status hearing.

Naomi Bistline arrives at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Naomi Bistline arrives at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff, Ariz.  

Johnson is still awaiting extradition from Washington state.

McVickers declined to comment on the record after the hearing. Bistline's attorney was not immediately available for comment.

Timeline:Polygamists, raids, state intervention: Turning points in history of Hildale and Colorado City

Bateman was originally arrested in August after Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers found three girls in a wooden horse trailer he was towing through Flagstaff. He bonded out a few days later and was rearrested by FBI agents on Sept. 13. Federal prosecutors then charged him with destruction of evidence.

While facing charges in both state and federal court, Bateman's bond was eventually increased to $250,000 and he was forbidden from any contact with the victims in the case or other minors.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Women tied to AZ polygamist sect charged in connection with kidnapping

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