Prophet of Utah doomsday cult pleads guilty to child bigamy

FILE - This undated file photo provided by Sanpete County Jail shows John Coltharp. Coltharp, a self-styled prophet accused of secretly marrying young girls because of his beliefs in polygamy and doomsday, pleaded guilty in Utah Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, to child rape and abuse charges filed after police raided the group's remote desert compound. Samuel W. Shaffer faces at least 25 years in prison after agreeing to the plea deal. His fellow self-styled prophet Coltharp is also facing child bigamy and other charges there. Authorities believe the two men each held the title of prophet at different points. (Sanpete County Jail via AP, File)

Salt Lake City • A self-styled prophet who helped lead a Utah doomsday cult that believed in polygamy is pleading guilty to sodomy and child bigamy charges.

John Coltharp agreed to the plea deal in a courtroom in Manti Wednesday in exchange for prosecutors dropping kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 8. He faces up to life in prison.

Authorities say the 34-year-old formed a group called the Knights of the Crystal Blade with his friend Samuel W. Shaffer and each man believed himself to be married to two young girls.

Prosecutors say both men held the title of prophet at different points.

Shaffer was sentenced in May to up to life in prison.

A third man who joined the group after meeting its founders on Facebook was charged with child sexual abuse last week.