Utah polygamist pleads guilty to incest for taking 15-year-old cousin as wife
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A member of Utah’s polygamous Kingston clan was sentenced Monday to a year behind bars for taking as his wife a 15-year-old cousin, who was also his aunt.
Jeremy Ortell Kingston pleaded guilty to incest in an arrangement with prosecutors. The felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor if Kingston successfully completes three years’ probation.
“I realize that I was the adult, she was the minor,” said Kingston, 32, addressing Judge Michael Burton in the packed courtroom before being sentenced. “I would like to tell her I am truly sorry for the mistake I made.”
Kingston was 24 when he took LuAnn Kingston as his fourth wife in 1995. Family members say he has at least 17 children. His legal wife and four of his children attended the hearing, but did not speak to reporters.
The sentencing follows the recommendation from prosecutors, who agreed that Kingston should not be sentenced to more than a year in jail or prison. He had entered his guilty plea in October.
LuAnn Kingston left her marriage in 2000, taking with her their two daughters. She said she went to police hoping to set an example for other polygamous wives.
In asking the court for leniency Monday, Kingston had suggested that LuAnn had pursued him and they had fallen in love. But she denied the marriage was consensual.
“I was glad that they saw through all of his save-face comments,” she told reporters after the sentencing.
The Kingston clan, also known as the Latter Day Church of Christ, includes an estimated 1,200 members. The secretive group has amassed a $150 million business empire, running Utah companies that include pawn shops, restaurant supply stores and dairies.
The clan is not part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which practiced polygamy widely until the 1890s, when church leaders renounced it as a condition for Utah statehood. Polygamists are now excommunicated from the Mormon church.
Last year, Jeremy Kingston’s uncle, David Ortell Kingston, was released from prison after serving four years for committing incest with a 16-year-old niece.