A teenage girl removed from the polygamist Kingston clan because she was abused testified that members of the group hatched plans to murder a judge and other state officials, as well as kidnap other Kingston children who are in state custody.
The girl also said some polygamist relatives wanted her to commit suicide on Feb. 22, the anniversary of her removal from her parents’ custody.
The 16-year-old girl testified amid heavy security with a therapist by her side in the courtroom of 3rd District Juvenile Judge Andrew Valdez on Tuesday. She spoke at an emergency hearing convened to discuss “safety matters” involving the 11 children of John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly.
Valdez ordered an immediate end to the children’s weekly supervised visits with Mattingly. Visits with John Daniel Kingston were previously terminated.
The judge also imposed no-contact orders on several Kingston clan members to keep them away from the children and said he hoped a “charging agency,” presumably the district attorney’s office, was “paying attention” to the claims voiced in court.
“Hopefully, some people are going to start going to jail,” Valdez said.
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Taking a break?
Months earlier, Valdez ruled that both Mattingly and Kingston had abused the children, but the court was working toward reunifying them with their mother.
Ten of the couple’s 11 children have been removed from the home and placed in foster care, with a relative or in a residential facility. Mattingly still has custody of an infant.
Six deputies eyed the crowd in court Tuesday, and extra deputies were deployed outside the building’s parking garage. The judge said law enforcement officials showed up at his home this weekend, telling him he needed protection.
“Any members of the (Kingston) family who come to my home will pay a price,” Valdez said.
The girl testified several clan members had discussed murder and kidnap plans with her. She said the plots included:
— “Blow up the courthouse” to assassinate Valdez.
— Murder state Guardian ad Litem Kristen Brewer, Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Nichols and Division of Child and Family Services case worker Curtis Giles by running their cars off the road or shooting them.
— Send masked clan members to kidnap Kingston children in foster care, even if it means killing foster parents, and spiriting the children to clan-owned ranches in Idaho to hide them.
A foster mother of two of the children testified she has been followed, suggesting her pursuers were Kingston clan members. At one point, Valdez suggested moving the children to secret locations, but Guardian ad Litem Brewer said the Kingstons would always be able to find them.
Brewer said relocating the children will make them think they are not safe anywhere. She said one of the children has asked her, “Am I going to have to run for the rest of my life?”
After the nearly five-hour hearing, Kingston told KSL NewsRadio “absolutely not” when asked if any kind of a plot was afoot. “I’m very worried for (the girl’s) safety,” he said of the 16-year-old. “She’s obviously thinking of suicide.”
Mattingly also spoke briefly: “My plan has always been to get my children home where they belong, with their family, with me, where they would be safe. The state has falsely insinuated that I intend to enforce that plan with force if necessary, (but) the actual facts show what I have done is comply with all the court orders.”
The two were hastily summoned to court Tuesday when the judge called them on a speaker phone in the courtroom. Kingston’s lawyer has been unavailable, so the judge telephoned another attorney at Kingston’s request to participate by speaker phone.
Lawyers for Mattingly and Kingston will get a chance to cross- examine the girl at a future hearing.
Mattingly’s lawyer, Russell Pietryga, on Tuesday questioned whether the girl’s testimony is hearsay. He said Mattingly does not control what other Kingstons do so she cannot be responsible for their actions.
Mattingly and Kingston were chastised by the judge after he left the room briefly and Mattingly tried to speak to Kingston — which is forbidden by court order.
“You’re lucky I walked out,” Valdez said. “You missed being held in contempt by two minutes.”