Co-leader of Central Utah doomsday cult sentenced for child bigamy

John Coltharp. Photo: Court pool

MANTI, Utah, Aug. 8, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The co-leader of a Utah doomsday cult was sentenced Wednesday to serve 26 years to life in prison, just like his partner.

John Alvin Coltharp, 34, pleaded guilty in June to reduced charges of child bigamy and sodomy, and now has received his sentence.

In May, Sam Shaffer, co-leader of the Iron-County based Knights of the Crystal Blade, also pleaded guilty to reduced charges — of child rape and abuse — and was given the identical sentence.

Shaffer and co-defendant Coltharp were “betrothed” to each other’s daughters, then ages 7 and 8, Shaffer told police upon his arrest.

Coltharp’s children were the subject of an AMBER alert last year, and both men’s children were found near Cedar City. Two were found in a mobile home and two were hiding in empty water barrels in temperatures near freezing.

Shaffer, now 35, had declared himself married to Coltharp’s 8-year-old daughter, and Coltharp had claimed Shaffer’s 7-year-old daughter as his “bride.”

Shaffer said his marriage was spiritual, not sexual, but admitted in February to engaging in sexual acts with Coltharp’s daughter.

According to reports from court on Wednesday, Coltharp gave a rambling speech with a doomsday prophecy, told the judge he was the reincarnation of Biblical prophets, and said his marriage to a child was the right thing to do.

Samuel Shaffer. Photo: Court pool, Feb. 20, 2018.

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