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Doomsday cult leader sentenced for rape of a child

The fifth district court takes Samuel Shaffer's guilty plea to felony rape of a child and felony child abuse at court in Cedar City, Wednesday, February 20, 2018. (James Dobson, The Spectrum via AP, Pool, File)

IRON COUNTY – The man who calls himself the prophet of The Knights of the Crystal Blade learns how long his prison sentence will be.  Samuel Shaffer will serve at least 25 years for sexual abuse of a child and child abuse, with both of his sentences running consecutively.

Inside the courtroom, Samuel Shaffer spoke about “mitigating circumstances,” during his sentencing.  He told the judge he took responsibility for the sexual contact with the girls.

Shaffer said, “I don’t know if this is in my best interest to say, but it did start as a religious thing. But I do accept culpability to the fact that I should have waited longer to initiate more intimate aspects of the relationship.”

The victims’ grandfather, Steve Soble, says he didn’t give Shaffer’s defense any weight.

“He used religion to find a way to justify his pedophilia,” Soble says.

Sobel says the victims are recovering as well as they can, and the sentence is a good step in their getting closure.

“They’re holding up.  They have good days and bad days.  They’re in therapy and they’re really trying hard to do well, and we’re trying to do everything we can to give them a wonderful and happy life,” Soble says.

Before handing down the maximum penalties for rape of a child and child abuse, Judge Matthew Bell informed Shaffer he wasn’t being sentenced for his religious beliefs, but for “criminal conduct which is highly disturbing.”  Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett says Shaffer’s comments showed how troubling his beliefs are.

“Just his ideas and thought about what healthy relationships are and aren’t, I think, are concerning,” Garrett says.

Garrets says not only did Shaffer abuse the children, but, he could have killed them by making them hide in water barrels in cold temperatures.  So, he says getting the maximum sentences served consecutively was the best outcome the state could ask for.

“The conditions exposed them to the potential of death, no question. That’s why we charged him with child abuse with serious bodily injury, a second degree felony, and he was convicted of that,” Garrett says.