Ongoing battle: The state plans to file a motion to terminate parental rights
But a 3rd District juvenile court judge on Tuesday rejected Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Nichols’ request that a permanency review hearing ordered by a previous judge in the case be dropped.
Noting it might be as long as six months before her calendar could accommodate a weeklong termination hearing, Judge Elizabeth Lindsley said the family is entitled to the permanency review.
That hearing would determine whether reunification of the children with their parents can proceed.
“We may be doing a disservice to these children,” Lindsley said, noting the potential delay and a previous order that Mattingly Foster and the children be reunited.
Lindsley set the review hearing to begin July 18, with additional time slotted for July 21 and 22. She also said that previous orders in the case regarding visitation and provision of a peer parent are to remain in place.
Eight of Mattingly Foster’s 11 children, ranging in age from 17 to 2, are currently in state custody.
Of those, two daughters, ages 17 and 14, say they do not want to return home. Mattingly Foster has custody of three children: a 1-year-old daughter and sons ages 15 and 10.
After Tuesday’s hearing, Mattingly Foster said the state’s plan to seek termination of her parental rights “was almost like a confirmation” of what she believes has been the state’s intention all along.
“How is that in the best interests of the kids?” she said. “When you review what has happened to my children while they have been in state custody, they are not safe there.”
The most serious of those events is an allegation one teen was sexually abused by a male acquaintance.
Lindsley is the third judge assigned to the case. Judges Andrew Valdez and Dane Nolan both recused themselves from the child welfare matter after conflict of interest concerns were raised.
The state argued Valdez had a conflict because of charges arising from a scuffle between his 19-year-old son and Kingston supporters outside the Matheson Courthouse. Daniel Irvin, Kingston’s attorney, asked that Nolan recuse himself because Nolan had previously prosecuted a sex case involving his client’s daughter and brother. Nolan also is a potential defense witness in a civil suit the girl has brought against the Davis County Cooperative Society, founded by the Kingstons.
The current child welfare matter began nearly 17 months ago after the couple and their two oldest girls got into a family fight over ear piercing. Subsequently, Valdez found, based largely on the girls’ testimony, that the couple had physically abused and neglected their children.
In October, he removed all but the baby from Mattingly Foster’s home after a caseworker said the couple was being uncooperative in its ongoing investigation.
In April, however, Valdez ruled that Mattingly Foster be reunited with six of the children in state custody based on her compliance with court orders and progress in therapy. The judge said the children were to be transitioned home before a June 28 review hearing; only two have been.
Nichols told Judge Lindsley on Tuesday that Valdez had subsequently withdrawn his order that the children be returned home.
But there is no record of such an order.
Gary Bell, Mattingly Foster’s attorney, said that some weeks ago, after the state moved to cut off visits between Mattingly Foster and the kids, Valdez had “recognized there was a chance they might not go home before the hearing, but did not withdraw the order.” Valdez said visits were to continue, Bell explained.
Nichols and Guardian Ad Litem Kristin Brewer maintain the children’s behavior has deteriorated since they learned they were to return home.
They also say reunification should be nixed because the couple violated a no-contact order in April during a funeral for Mattingly Foster’s father during which Kingston greeted his children and posed for pictures with them.
Valdez had given Kingston permission to attend the service but left in place a no-contact order with his children. Kingston said that order had not been made clear to him.
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