MANTI — An alleged leader of a purported doomsday cult out of southern Utah pleaded guilty to charges of child sodomy and child bigamy Wednesday.

John Coltharp, 34, of Spring City, pleaded guilty in 6th District Court to one count of child sodomy, a first-degree felony, and one count of child bigamy, a second-degree felony.

“The fact is I did act contrary to both of those statutes with which I am charged for violating. So yes, I’m guilty of violating both of those,” Coltharp said during court proceedings Wednesday.

The group, identified as the Knights of the Crystal Blade, was allegedly led by Samuel Warren Shaffer, 34, of Cedar City, and Coltharp. Coltharp’s ex-wife described Shaffer as a “doomsday prepper who believes that the world will soon come to an end.”

In September, Shaffer and Coltharp disappeared with their children, allegedly taking each other’s daughters as underage brides, according to investigators. After an Amber Alert was issued in December, Coltharp’s daughters, ages 5 and 7, and Shaffer’s daughters, ages 4 and 8, were found in freezing temperatures, hidden in plastic barrels or in an abandoned mobile home in a remote area of Iron County.

After Coltharp pleaded guilty Wednesday, Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels said, “As I delved deeper and deeper into the case, this all started … on the internet.”

Daniels described the Knights of the Crystal Blade as a “fundamentalist group for Millenials.”

The district attorney visited the victims’ family in Colorado the previous week, he said, and they told him “what justice would look like” to them.

“We were able to obtain that for them. So for me personally, I’m very happy. The family is relieved. There are still more steps to obtaining full justice, I believe. And a lot of healing that needs to take place over a long time for those children and …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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