They 'Married' Each Other's Daughters. The Girls Were 7, 8

Samuel Shaffer will spend at least 26 years behind bars; John Coltharp is still to be sentenced
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2018 11:20 AM CDT
In this Feb. 20, 2018, file photo, Samuel Shaffer appears during a court hearing in Cedar City, Utah.   (James Dobson/The Spectrum via AP, Pool, File)

(Newser) – A Utah man who said he was the prophet of a polygamist sect is headed to prison after his conviction and sentencing this week on a child sodomy charge. Samuel Shaffer is the Knights of the Crystal Blade leader who was arrested in December on kidnapping charges involving his two daughters, as well as the two daughters and two sons of sect co-founder John Coltharp, who was also arrested. On Wednesday in Sanpete County, Shaffer pleaded guilty to felony sodomy on a child and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, KUTV reports. Among the details Shaffer shared with detectives as they looked into his case, per People: that he'd "married" Coltharp's 8-year-old daughter, and Coltharp had done the same with his 7-year-old daughter.

Shaffer, listed as either 34 or 35, had previously been sentenced to 26 years to life in Iron County on child rape and child abuse charges; his new sentence will run concurrent with that one. "I sincerely believed that child marriage was a correct principle from God," Shaffer told Sanpete County Judge Marvin Bagley, per USA Today. "And I've seen the consequences of what's happened, and I know that I shouldn't have done it now." But Bagley wasn't buying his excuses. "I'm not aware of any religion in this world that justifies an adult having a sexual relationship with an 8-year-old girl," Bagley said. "Certainly it's a violation of Utah law." Coltharp is set to be sentenced Aug. 8. (Read more Utah stories.)

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