clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Girl testifies against Kingston
Judge tells all-male jury case is about incest, not polygamy

This is how the alleged victim in the David Ortell Kingston incest case describes her relationship to a former employer:

"(He's) my grandma's dad's other wife's son."At least that is what it sounded like to a listener straining to understand her barely audible, yet brisk cadence. But it was only one of many bizarre polygamy references that rushed out of the girl's mouth while testifying against her uncle and alleged husband Tuesday.

Kingston, 33, is on trial in 3rd District Court this week accused of having sexual intercourse four times in 1998 with his then 16-year-old niece after she allegedly became his 15th wife on Oct. 15, 1997. Charged with three counts of incest and one count of unlawful sexual conduct, all third-degree felonies, Kingston could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The most surreal moment in the trial Tuesday came when an all-male jury panel was seated shortly before the noon recess. Although 20 of the 49 prospective jurors in the jury pool were female, nine white men were selected by prosecutor Dane Nolan and defense attorney Steve McCaughey to stand in Kingston's judgment.

The peculiarity did not escape anti-polygamy group Tapestry of Polygamy and other audience members.

"This is unheard of," said group spokeswoman Carmen Thompson. In an earlier ruling, Judge David Young barred Tapestry of Polygamy members from exercising any form of protest in or near the courtroom, including wearing ribbons, that could influence the jury.

But despite Young's repeated emphasis that the case is about incest, not about polygamy, he could not prevent numerous references from seeping into the trial.

To begin with, Young told prospective jurors that Kingston is alleged to be involved in polygamy. However, "the fact that (Kingston) is alleged to be a polygamist . . . should really have no bearing in this case," he said.

Later Nolan had a hard time trying to get the alleged victim to describe who had spoken at her wedding without saying that they were Kingston's 14 other wives. McCaughey repeatedly objected to the classification and Young sustained the objections.

"Detail in this case is important. She should be allowed to tell us everything she remembers about the wedding," Nolan argued, to no avail. The fact the other wives approved of the wedding showed the girl's mindset, why she consented to the wedding and why she later consented to sex with Kingston, he said.

But Young agreed with McCaughey that the mention of the other wives was irrelevant and unfounded.

McCaughey, eager to stay away from the polygamy issue, promised jurors to show, through the victim's inconsistent statements, that his client never had sex with her. In his opening statement, McCaughey urged jurors to look for "conflicting and contradictory" statements in the girl's testimony.

Wednesday, the girl testified she gave varying statements to social workers and police because she was scared to reveal her family secrets. "I still was not sure if I was going to get out of the group," she said. "I was so scared, I didn't dare tell inside secrets."

How jurors will take the girl's flat abandon with which she retold her story Tuesday remains to be seen.

She was about 13 when her father, John Daniel Kingston, told her to "start preparing for marriage and (thinking about) who I should marry," the girl testified.

Girls in "the order," as she called the polygamous sect her family belongs to, do not have high school or higher education in their future. "It wasn't part of the plan, I guess," she said. Instead, girls her age are married to whoever clan leader Paul Kingston, her father's brother, approves of, she said.

So on her 16th birthday, she had to tell a boy she had fallen in love with that she could not marry him. A few months later, she had a meeting with her father, her mother (Susan Nelson) and David Kingston at a West Salt Lake church where David Kingston told her that his other wives had had dreams that she should become his next wife, she said.

The girl disagreed with the proposal, but all she could manage was, "Sounds like this is supposed to happen," she said.

No date was set right away, and despite purchasing a wedding dress, she tried to stall the wedding as long as possible. "I wasn't ready. I didn't want it to happen so fast," she said. "I just didn't want to get married."

But within weeks, on Oct. 13, 1997, David Kingston called her to suggest they get married on the Oct. 15 because she was to become his 15th wife, she said.

"I was kind of in shock because it was in two days and I needed more time," she said. But when her mother approved of the date, David Kingston said he would call Paul Kingston to get his approval.

She spent the next day cleaning and decorating the West Salt Lake church alone. On. Oct. 15 she helped her mother prepare some food, and the wedding began about 2 p.m. Her father walked her down the aisle to a front pew, where she sat with David Kingston's 14 other wives, she said.

The girl and David Kingston exchanged vows but not rings, she said. The wedding lasted several hours, and the two finally left about 7:30 p.m. David Kingston drove to the Olympus Park Hotel in Park City, where they spent the night, she said.

It wasn't until the end of January 1998 that they had sex for the first time in her room at her mother's house, she testified. She continued to live with her mother and nine siblings in their Sandy house until David Kingston moved her to an apartment at a family-owned coal yard at 197 W. 3900 South two months later.

Because the girl had been sexually abused when she was about 8 years old, she was glad to get out of the house, she said. At the South Salt Lake apartment, she lived with one of David Kingston's half-sisters and was often visited by one of his other wives "to keep close tabs on me," she said.

At the apartment, she and David Kingston had sex three more times in March, April and May, she said. On one of those occasions, David Kingston gave her a wedding ring with 15 stones, signifying that she was his 15th wife, she said.

Finally, on May 22, the girl decided to run away. She spent the night with friends and later went to her mother's house. That same night, her father took her to a family ranch in Box Elder County, where she said he beat her until she passed out. A day later, she walked to a gas station and called police.

In April, John Kingston pleaded no contest to child abuse, a third-degree felony, and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. David Kingston's trial is scheduled to conclude Thursday.