In February 2004, the two eldest daughters of John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly Foster alleged Kingston told them to remove their pierced earrings or he would pull them out.
They fled and contacted relatives, who called the Division of Child and Family Services. DCFS declined to open a case, but Guardian ad Litem Kristin Brewer intervened.
The case expanded after one girl testified their mother and father had spanked or slapped them in the past and that Kingston once shoved Mattingly Foster down some stairs.
Eventually, six other children removed from Mattingly Foster’s home spent 10 months in foster care, returning home in August 2005; two others went home sooner. The couple voluntarily gave up custody of the two oldest girls in October.
Nearly three years after a dispute over ear piercing landed them in court, a judge has ended a child welfare case involving polygamist John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly Foster.
But legal wrangling will continue.
An appeal filed by the Guardian ad Litem’s Office is already before the Utah Supreme Court; the couple said Monday they plan to file their own appeal alleging improprieties by the state.
Kingston, 51, also filed a motion Monday seeking to strike or rebut testimony given in February 2005 by one of their daughters about alleged plots to kill a judge, blow up the courthouse and kidnap children then in foster care.
The allegations are false, Kingston said, but he has never been allowed to rebut them and they continue to be used by state officials against his family.
Still to be worked out is how much Kingston must pay to Mattingly Foster for support of their nine minor children, who now range in age from 2 to 17. In October, the couple terminated their parental rights to two girls, now ages 18 and 15.
Third District Juvenile Judge Elizabeth Lindsley closed the rest of the case after psychologist Ralph Gant testified Kingston had successfully completed domestic violence and anger management therapy, attending some 18 individual counseling sessions since October 2005.
Gant said Kingston also, on his own, read Growing Children God’s Way and Reaching the Heart of Your Teen. The values-based parenting books are by Christian authors Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.
After the hearing, Kingston said what he’d learned would aid him, his family and even his employees at A-1 Disposal, with whom he plans to share information on domestic violence and anger management.
But, “The benefit will never outweigh the damage to my innocent children,” Kingston said.
And Mattingly Foster, 35, called the conclusion of the case “bittersweet.”
“Now we can start fixing all the damage and all the stress that’s happened to our family,” she said.
According to court testimony, Mattingly Foster is one of 14 women with whom Kingston has more than 110 children. Kingston spent 28 weeks in jail in 1999 after pleading no contest to felony child abuse for belt-whipping a daughter by one of those other women.
A $110 million lawsuit filed by that daughter, Mary Anne Nichols, against Kingston and other members of the Davis County Cooperative Society is still pending.
Since 1996, the state has spent over $500,000 intervening numerous times in child welfare investigations involv- ing Mattingly Foster’s family. That tab includes $128,087 spent by the Utah Attorney General’s Office through October, a figure provided in response to a public records request filed by The Salt Lake Tribune. The Division of Child and Family Services estimated that as of April, it had spent $381,000 providing services to Mattingly Foster and her children.
Brewer’s appeal contests decisions by Lindsley and Juvenile Judge Andrew Valdez, who supervised the case until June 2005, to return the children to Mattingly Foster.
Kirsten Stewart contributed to this story.