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Leader of Knights of Crystal Blade pleads guilty

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MANTI, Utah (News4Utah)  – From the outset, John Coltharp told attorneys he could not say the words guilty because of his religious views.

Wednesday before a judge, Coltharp enlightened to the judicial system.  He said those words when asked if he was guilty of crimes related to sodomy and bigamy.

“I plead guilty,” Coltharp told Judge Marvin Bagley.

Coltharp was the leader of a so-called religion, the Knights of the Crystal Blade.

He and a follower, Samuel Shaffer, kidnapped their daughters and hid them in storage bins in Iron County.

And while on the run, they married each other’s older daughters, married their own four-year-old daughters and sexually molested them.

Wednesday in court, Coltharp accepted a plea offer and admitted to sodomy and bigamy.

“Yes, I am guilty of violating both of those, that is a fact,” he said standing before Judge Bagley.  “As far as the date, I don’t remember exactly when but it was somewhere between 2017.

In exchange for the plea, charges of kidnapping and obstruction of justice were dropped.

Last month, Shaffer was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for his role in the crime. A third person, Robert Roe who was recruited into the religion was recently charged for sodomizing one of Shaffer’s daughters.

The prosecutor said Coltharp and Shaffer never knew each other prior to the events that led to the crime. 

“They met on the internet,” said Kevin Daniels, the Sanpete County attorney.

He said they became friends chatting on the website of the Knights of the Crystal Blade.

“They realized they shared the same beliefs,” he said.

Eventually, they got together and forged a friendship according to Daniels.  The county attorney said he recently visited Coltharp’s former wife.  And they supported the plea agreement.

“They told me what justice would look like,” Daniels said.  “We were able to obtain that for them.  So for me personally, they’re happy.  We were able to achieve that. The family is relieved.”

Daniels said Coltharp could face 26 years to life in prison when he’s sentenced in August.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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