The self-proclaimed prophet of a polygamous doomsday cult could spend the rest of his days behind bars for sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl he called his bride.
A Utah judge on Tuesday sentenced Samuel Shaffer to 25 years to life for a first-degree felony rape charges, as well as one to 15 years for an abuse charge, The Spectrum in St. George reported.
Shaffer believed God spoke to him on the morning of June 22, 2015, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The cult, called the Knights of the Crystal Blade, was preparing for a Muslim invasion signalling the end of the world, and believed in polygamy and child marriage.
In court, Judge Matthew Bell told Shaffer, 34, that his actions were despicable.
"The facts regarding the abuse inflicted by the defendant and the grave risks that were presented to his victims are egregious," Bell said, according to The Spectrum. "Mr. Shaffer, I want to be clear. You’re not being sentenced based on religious views. You’re being sentenced based on your parental conduct, which is highly disturbing."
Shaffer and his co-defendant, a follower named John Coltharp, were arrested in December 2017 and charged with kidnapping Coltharp's four daughters. When he was captured, Shaffer said he married Coltharp's 8-year-old and that Coltharp married Shaffer's 7-year-old daughter, according to Fox 13 in Salt Lake City.
Shaffer allegedly hid two of the girls in a trailer and two in water barrels, and they were exposed to freezing temperatures while they waited for someone to rescue them. Both men face additional charges in that case.
Shaffer said in court that he put the girls in the barrel to protect them from the elements of nature. He left the other two girls in the trailer, he said, because they needed shelter and he knew he was going to be caught.
He said he told one of the girls something special before he left them alone in the trailer: “I said, find me when you’re older and she said, 'I love you.'”
Iron County Attorney Gary Edwards said Shaffer's account was skewed.
"He actually told the children to use a different name if they were found,” Edwards said. "The children also disclosed that the defendant told them that they could use that gun that he left at the water barrels on law enforcement if they came for them."
Edwards then read a statement from an investigation document, according to The Spectrum.
“These children will bear the consequences of deep trauma, self-blame, unimaginable shame from the sexual abuse of the most vulgar and heinous elements of a criminal nature,” he read. “Mr. Shaffer, in calculated increments, manipulation, deception and salacious grooming of power and control, satisfied his deviant sexual appetites under the guise of a religious fanaticism and doomsday paranoia.”
After the sentencing, the girls' grandfather Steve Soble told Fox 13 the children are struggling to move on.
"They’re in therapy and they’re trying hard to do well," he said. "We’re trying to do everything we can to give them a wonderful and happy life."
[Photo: Iron County Sheriff's Office]