Bateman sentence: 9 months

Kingman Daily Miner/December 20, 2006
By Aaron Royster

Kingman -- David Romaine Bateman, 49, of Colorado City entered the courtroom silently in street clothes with his family and left in handcuffs with the same stoic countenance.

Bateman was sentenced Monday to nine months in prison for sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.

Mohave County Judge James E. Chavez sentenced Bateman to serve the sentences for the Class 6 felonies concurrently and required Bateman to register as a sex offender upon his release.

"I want to make it clear up front, I'm not sentencing Warren Jeffs or the FLDS … I'm sentencing Mr. Bateman," Chavez said.

Chavez explained that he felt probation was useful for rehabilitation, while prison is necessary to help prevent a continuance of crime.

"There must be some general deterrent effect to these proceedings," Chavez said.

Prior to sentencing, prosecuting Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith addressed the court regarding the age of the victim, who was 17 at the time of the offense. Smith also focused on the lifestyle of the members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Colorado City/Hildale area.

"Since they're taught at an early age this is what you do, they have no choice," Smith said.

He added that the enforcement of the law isn't because the prosecution is specifically going after the FLDS community.

"The law is there to protect all young children," Smith said. "It's not a law we put into effect just for Colorado City."

Smith focused on the fact that Bateman had not expressed any acknowledgement of committing any wrong or responsibility for breaking the law, which Chavez agreed with when delivering his sentence.

"I regret Mr. Bateman sees little between the law and his religion," Chavez said.

Prior to sentencing, Bateman's attorney, Bruce Griffen, brought to light the difficult situation his client faced in choosing to obey his religion or the law; and the difficult situation the law had in judging all surrounding factors.

"He lives a chosen lifestyle that put him in that position," Griffen said.

"But for his religious dedication, he would not have broken the law."

Griffen also focused on the positive contributions Bateman has made to the community as an active member of the search and rescue team and his pursuit of a higher education to teach in the community.

The victim, now 22, addressed the judge on the behalf of Bateman prior to sentencing.

"The state of Arizona has tried to make a victim out of me," she said. "On the contrary, I'm in a happy family."

She said she felt that Bateman had not done anything wrong to her. She added they had only been living out their religious beliefs. "I have not been brain-washed," she said. "I made the decision to marry him."

Chavez said he used the lack of prior convictions, Bateman's community involvement and the statements of the victim to decide on a mitigated sentence.

"She says she's not a victim and I won't treat her like a victim," Chavez said.

Bateman faced a maximum of one year in prison for each charge due to the absence of aggravating factors.

Bateman is one of eight Colorado City men indicted on charges of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. Kelly Fischer was the other member of the polygamist-supporting FLDS community to be found guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in county jail. He is currently serving his sentence.

Donald Robert Barlow was found not guilty, and the charges against Terry Darger Barlow have been dismissed due to an inability to prove the crime was committed in Mohave County.

Three cases remain for Griffen to defend before Mohave County Judge Steven F. Conn. Dale Barlow's trial, which was supposed to begin today, has been postponed due to a continuance by Griffen.

Randolph Joseph Barlow will have a bench trial beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 3. Rodney Hans Holm will have a jury trial starting at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 17.

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