Pedophile cult members sentenced for raping girls as young as 4-years-old
The leader of a pedophile cult, who claims to be the “second coming of Jesus Christ,” has been jailed for marrying and raping several girls as young as 4-years-old.
35-year-old John Coltharp, a self-proclaimed prophet and doomsday-cult leader in Utah, was sentenced to serve at least 26 years in prison for sexually abusing and marrying young girls while promoting polygamy.
In his defence, Coltharp claims that he’s the reincarnated son of God and that his “religious freedom” allows him to rape children under “heavenly law.”
Coltharp was sentenced along with other senior members of his cult who would trade their daughters with each other to marry and rape their own, and each other’s, children.
Epoch Times reports: Judge Marvin Bagley told 35-year-old John Coltharp in 6th District Court that Coltharp’s beliefs and promotion of child marriage are wrong and aren’t mentioned in any biblical document, according to The Associated Press.
But Coltharp remained defiant in court, claiming he was following “heavenly laws” and that he himself was an Old Testament figure.
Coltharp, who was sentenced on Aug. 8, could spend life behind bars pending a parole-board determination.
In June, he pleaded guilty to sodomy and child bigamy charges.
The judge said he hoped Coltharp is never released.
Authorities say Coltharp helped create an extremist cult dubbed the “Knights of the Crystal Blade,” based on arcane Mormon ideas long abandoned by the mainstream church, according to AP.
He and his friend, Samuel Shaffer, 34, built a makeshift settlement from shipping containers in the desert and used it as a base.
Their beliefs included an imminent end of the world, polygamy, and child marriage.
Both men have described the cult as a “fundamentalist group for millennials” that formed online.
Both have also held the self-proclaimed title of “prophet” at different points in time.
The mother of two of the children had reported them missing, along with her two sons.
The men had kidnapped their own children and taken them to the settlement.
According to prosecutors, the men married each other’s daughter and took on their own 4-year-old daughters as child brides.
All four of the girls had spent 24 hours in freezing temperatures by the time they were discovered.
Shaffer is also serving a sentence of 26 years to life imprisonment, following a separate conviction.
Authorities said a third man who joined the group after meeting the pair via Facebook also was charged with child sexual abuse.
Two other followers have also cooperated with authorities.