Kingston family target of probe?

WEST JORDAN — Polygamist John Daniel Kingston said he knows his family is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“They’re just trying to fish for something,” Kingston said after a court appearance Tuesday involving custody of some of his children with Heidi Mattingly.

“They’d like to make up something that’s not there. There’s really nothing I’m aware of that rises to a criminal nature. But they’d certainly like to do that,” he said.

Kingston’s lawyers have said that in discovery requests, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has been asking for more than just simple information involving a child custody case. Investigators have been seen numerous times in court hearings, sitting in the audience.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office refused to discuss any investigations underway involving the Kingstons.

“I wouldn’t comment on that either way,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen said Wednesday.

Sources have told the Deseret Morning News that current and former members of the Kingston group have talked to investigators. Kingston said that investigators have approached his children many times, trying to talk to them.

Former Kingston group member and Tapestry Against Polygamy co-founder Rowenna Erickson said she has spoken with the AG’s office.

“I give them information when they need it,” she said Wednesday. “I really can’t say that much about it.”

Representatives from other polygamist groups have said they also have met with investigators to insist they are not breaking any laws. Some have even offered to let investigators visit their churches and speak with their membership.

Kingston said he believes his family is being investigated, and himself in particular.

“Obviously in this case, they’ve tried to make it a criminal nature, and it just isn’t. It’s not there,” he said.

Despite his insistence, a judge in 3rd District Juvenile Court found evidence of abuse and neglect involving the 11 children Kingston has with Mattingly. Last year, Mattingly was allowed to have custody of her children. The judge is scheduled to hold another hearing to decide if Kingston should be allowed to see his children unsupervised.

Other members of the Kingston sect have also been prosecuted in the past. In 2003, Jeremy Kingston pleaded guilty to a single charge of incest. He was accused of marrying a young woman who was his cousin.

In 2001, Michelle Afton Michaels was charged with child-abuse homicide in the death of a 17-month-old child she was baby-sitting. Michaels entered an “Alford plea” which allowed her to plead guilty but maintain her innocence. She was sentenced to probation.

David Ortell Kingston was released from prison in 2003 after serving four years for incest and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, for having sex with a 16-year-old who claimed she was his 15th wife. And John Daniel Kingston pleaded no contest in 1999 to charges he beat his daughter, MaryAnn Kingston, who fled that marriage to David Ortell Kingston. She has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the group.

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Deseret Morning News, USA
Sep. 14, 2006
Ben Winslow

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday September 14, 2006.
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