(ABC 4 News/AP)– The judge presiding over the Kingston polygamy case has stepped down, under a request from Utah state officials. However, there are many questions as to why he recused himself from the bench.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed a motion Thursday requesting that Valdez recuse himself from the case, due to scrutiny over his son Tito, who was arrested in March and cited with disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor, in a clash with protesters outside the courthouse.
The Attorney General’s Office is concerned about a possible conflict of interest because witnesses in that case also are members of the Kingston clan.
Friday, Judge Valdez did step down from the case. However, the Kingston family disagrees with the official reason. They believe that Judge Valdez was removed because prosecutors were losing ground in their criminal case against the clan, and wanted a different judge on the bench.
“It’s a vendetta against John Daniel Kingston,” said family attorney Daniel Irvin. “We’re no longer looking for what’s best for these children… [it’s about] winning a tall costs.”
It has been reported that Judge Dayne Nolan will take over the case, but the Kingstons take issue with that move as well since Nolan is a material witness in a different case involving the Kingstons.
Meanwhile, the 17-year-old daughter of polygamist John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly says she is frightened at the prospect that a judge might remove her from foster care and return her to her mother.
“I have no support except for my lawyer and caseworker,” the girl told the Deseret Morning News. “I want my family to back off. I want the judge to listen. I want him to care, to care about what he’s sending the kids back to.”
A hearing is scheduled for June 28 at which a judge will review the status of the girl and some of her siblings. At the same time, John Daniel Kingston says he plans to file a lawsuit against the state and his own daughter in a libel/slander suit.