The men behind the small religious group Knights of the Crystal Blade continue to rack up criminal charges.
John Coltharp and Samuel Shaffer — both reported at one time to be the “prophet” of the fundamentalist Mormon offshoot — have been criminally charged with attempting to marry children.
Coltharp, 34, of Spring City, Sanpete County, was charged with child bigamy. Shaffer, 34, of Beryl, Iron County, was charged with conspiracy to commit child bigamy.
Shaffer had told police that he married Coltharp’s 8-year-old daughter and that Coltharp married his 7-year-old daughter, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Geoffrey Fattah, spokesman for Utah State Courts, said the men are the first in the state to be charged under the child bigamy statute. A legislative analyst said the law was enacted in 2003.
Both counts were filed Tuesday in Sanpete County’s 6th District Court. The second-degree felonies stem from an alleged July 1 incident, according to charging documents.
The new charges follow a handful of previous charges the men face for allegedly kidnapping Coltharp’s daughters, keeping both men’s daughters in unsafe conditions and sexual abuse of the men’s daughters.
An investigation into the men started in December when Coltharp lost custody of his children, but allegedly refused to hand them over to his ex-wife. After Coltharp was arrested for custodial interference, Shaffer allegedly ran with his two daughters and Coltharp’s two daughters.
After police issued an Amber Alert, Shaffer was found near a makeshift compound the small religious group had set up near Lund in Iron County.
The size of the small group is not known. Coltharp’s parents were reportedly staying at the compound, and an out-of-state man told police Coltharp and Shaffer attempted to recruit him into the church and promised him a child bride, but police have not reported other members.
After police found Shaffer, he gave the locations of the four girls, two who were in a poorly kept single-wide trailer and the other two in an empty water drum.
After his arrest, Shaffer told police the men had married each other’s daughters.