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8 Kingston kids in state custody

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Polygamist John Daniel Kingston lost another court battle Tuesday.

A 3rd District judge ordered eight more of Kingston's children to be removed from his home.

The children have been considered at-risk since Judge Andrew Valdez's June ruling that Kingston and one of his wives had abused their two oldest daughters. The two girls, ages 13 and 16, have been under that state's watch since that time.

"He's running a child mill here," Valdez said of Kingston. "If this was a puppy mill, the humane society would have shut it down a long time ago. I'm gonna protect these kids."

Seven of the children, who span in age from 2 to 12, will live at the Christmas Box House until further notice. The 15-year-old son will be sent to a secure home because Division of Child Family Services officials fear he might run away from state custody. The couple's 3-month-old daughter will remain in the home.

Kingston has fathered approximately 106 children with 14 different wives, according to state officials.

The family landed in court after the two teenage girls got their ears pierced in February. The girls told police they were afraid of their father, who was angered with the girls for piercing their ears without his permission.

Valdez ruled in June that Kingston displayed a pattern of abuse and neglect in the past decade and that the girls' mother, Heidi Mattingly, failed to protect them from that abuse.

"I still feel the children are in jeopardy," Valdez said.

Since the beginning of the case, Guardian ad Litem Kristen Brewer has asked Valdez to remove the children from the home because of unsafe conditions. It wasn't until Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Nichols filed a motion to expedite review in the case that Valdez complied with the request.

Nichols also asked the judge to remove the children from the home because Kingston and Mattingly have repeatedly failed to cooperate with DCFS workers. She said members of the Kingston polygamous clan have blocked case workers from meeting with the children in private.

The children's day-care facility is not licensed and keeps 15 children between the ages of 2-12 under watch, Nichols said. Also, the couple's 2-year-old son showed up at a DCFS interview with a black eye. An incident report filed in August by the day care said the boy fell off a slide, but Nichols said the black eye was still showing in an interview two weeks ago.

"DCFS is very concerned about these children," Nichols said.

Guardian ad Litem Kristen Brewer filed a motion on Oct. 12 with new allegations of abuse at the Kingston home. In videotaped testimony, the 13-year-old daughter said her mother, Heidi Mattingly, physically and emotionally abused the children.

The allegations are separate from the taped testimony released earlier this year. In that testimony, the girl said Kingston beat her, her mother and her siblings and forced his children to eat rotten food he dug out of the garbage, drink rotten milk — and worse.

Kingston and Mattingly maintain the state is targeting them because of their polygamous beliefs.

"Their purpose is to take the children from all polygamist parents and break up their families," Kingston said. "They have no concern for our civil rights or what's best for the children."

The Kingstons are members of the Latter-day Church of God, or "The Order," which reportedly has some 1,200 members and professes polygamy as part of its religious beliefs.

The group operates a $150 million business empire in six Western states with companies that include pawn shops, restaurant supply stores, dairies and mines.

Another hearing to determine whether the judge's ruling to remove the children was warranted will be held Friday afternoon.

E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com