Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes Imprisoned Ahead of His Capitol Riot Trial

·4 min read
Jim Urquhart/Reuters
Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Promises that the Oath Keepers’ founder made to show up at events in person might have to wait.

Stewart Rhodes, 56, was ordered detained until his trial, according to a court order released on Wednesday. The militia leader was captured two weeks ago and charged for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

“The Court questions Defendant’s willingness to obey any Court-imposed conditions of supervised release… Defendant’s actions exhibit an extreme defiance to federal authority that raise doubt as to Defendant’s ability and willingness to comply with conditions of release.” the order reads.

According to the court order, Rhodes left Virginia soon after the Capitol riot expressly to evade arrest, deleted evidence of his participation in the violent uprising, and told others to do the same.

The court said that, without a permanent address, Rhodes was “transient” and “may easily flee federal authorities and avoid apprehension.” Allegations of violence made by his estranged wife further inclined the court to order his detainment.

Oath Keepers Boss Finally Nabbed Over ‘Seditious’ Jan. 6 Plot, Feds Say

The court also said Rhodes’ “authoritative role in the conspiracy, access to substantial weaponry, and ability to finance any future insurrection” along with this “continued advocacy for violence against the federal government” made him an ongoing threat and worked against his pretrial release.

Rhodes, an Army veteran and a graduate of Yale Law School who was disbarred in 2007, is charged with seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties and to obstruct an official proceeding, and tampering with proceedings. He faces decades in prison if convicted.

The Justice Department alleges that he entered Capitol grounds as part of a longstanding plot to disrupt the democratic transfer of power, beginning his seditious machinations in Nov. 2020. Of the more than 700 people indicted in connection with the attempted insurrection, Rhodes and 10 other members of the Oath Keepers are the first to be charged with seditious conspiracy.

“[W]e must do now what the people of Serbia did when Milosevic stole their election. Refuse to accept it and march en-mass on the nation’s Capitol,” he allegedly wrote in an Oath Keepers group chat.

Rhodes’ attorney Jonathan Moseley has previously denied the allegations against Rhodes.

“Prosecutors know that none of the Oath Keepers ever planned or conspired to attack the Capitol, disrupt the Joint Session of Congress, or anything they claim. I have got the documents,” Moseley said.

In an effort to provide an address where the court could feasibly reach him, Rhodes said he was in a relationship with one Kellye SoRelle and living with her in Granbury, Texas. The court order said attempts were made to contact her but failed. SoRelle, however, agreed to no such arrangement. In a text to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday night, she denied that she was dating Rhodes, saying, “I think Stewart just wanted to have a place to stay.”

Rhodes’ estranged wife likewise got involved in the detention proceedings. According to the court filing, Tasha Adams, who lives in Montana and who now has custody of her six kids with Rhodes, volunteered the information that he had dug escape tunnels in their backyard in Kalispell, Montana, stashed unregistered cars in nearby woods, and encircled their property with hundreds of dollars of razor wire “in case the feds ever came to his door.”

Adams also said her husband would often entice their children into “martial arts practice” as a pretext to hit them, though he would always claim the contact was accidental. Once, she said, Rhodes choked their daughter and didn’t stop until their adult son forced the two apart. She said she was afraid what would happen to the children if Rhodes were released.

Adams, who said the violence increased beginning in 2016, filed for divorce in 2018.

Members of the Oath Keepers—“adorned in tactical gear” like helmets, hard-knuckle gloves, and goggles, according to the filing—were an integral part of the pro-Donald Trump crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of 2021. The Justice Department alleges they did so on Rhodes’ orders. He volunteered to pay for guns, hotel rooms, and communications devices for Oath Keepers who participated in the Jan. 6 riot, and spent more than $40,000 on the firearms, ammunition, and other accessories, the Justice Department said.

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