Self-proclaimed prophet, doomsday cult leader gets another 15-plus years in child abuse case

(Photo courtesy James Dobson/The Spectrum via AP) In this Feb. 20, 2018, file photo, Samuel Shaffer attends a court hearing in Cedar City. Shaffer, a self-styled Utah prophet accused of secretly marrying young girls because of his beliefs in polygamy and doomsday, was sentenced to 15 years up to life in prison on one count of sodomy of a child on Wednesday in Sanpete County.

One of the self-proclaimed prophets of a small doomsday cult was sentenced on Wednesday to at least 15 years and up to life in prison after pleading guilty to one count of sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony.

The 6th District Court in Manti on Wednesday also dismissed several other claims against Samuel Shaffer, 34, including an additional count of sodomy and charges of obstruction of justice, child bigamy and lewdness involving a child.

Shaffer and John Coltharp, 34, were arrested in December and charged with kidnapping after the pair, who formed the polygamous, doomsday cult Knights of the Crystal Blade together, hid Coltharp’s children from his ex-wife. That triggered an Amber Alert and a search that eventually led law enforcement to the desert west of Cedar City, where Shaffer and the children were found in a makeshift home constructed from shipping containers.

The two formed the group around fundamentalist Mormon teachings and believed in a prophesied Muslim invasion of the United States and the end of the world. They thought they were receiving revelations from God and each held the title of prophet at different points, according to prosecutors. The men married each other’s daughters.

Separate from Wednesday’s 6th District Court decision, Shaffer was sentenced to up to life in prison in Iron County’s 5th District Court at the end of May, after he pleaded guilty to child rape and abuse charges.

Coltharp pleaded guilty to one count of sodomy and another count of child bigamy on June 13; his sentencing is expected to take place on Aug. 8, according to court dockets.

A third man, 34-year-old Robert Roe, who allegedly joined the group after meeting the founders on Facebook, also was charged with one count of sodomy on a child. His preliminary court hearing is scheduled for July 18.