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Kingston wife ordered to live in a shelter

Mattingly may not see, speak to spouse or others in the clan

Kingston family members leave the courthouse after the judge's ruling. John Daniel Kingston wife Heidi Mattingly was ordered to live in a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Kingston family members leave the courthouse after the judge's ruling. John Daniel Kingston wife Heidi Mattingly was ordered to live in a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

A judge ordered one of John Daniel Kingston's polygamous wives to leave her family home and live in a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

Friday's ruling came three days after 3rd District Judge Andrew Valdez took eight of Heidi Mattingly and Kingston's children into state custody.

The ruling bans Mattingly from seeing or speaking to Kingston, working at her job at a local copy center or communicating with any members of the polygamous clan, including her parents and friends.

"She agreed to that," Kingston's defense attorney Daniel Irvin said. "They just want to make sure she's making independent decisions."

Mattingly put her hands to her face and cried after the judicial order. In a statement to the media, Mattingly said the state "is trying to force me to leave my family and all that I love. I'm begging the state of Utah to stop breaking up my family and let my children come home."

More than 60 members of the polygamous order came to the courthouse to support Mattingly and Kingston. Rachel Young, Kingston's full sister, said it is terrible that the state wants to tear the family apart.

"They have stripped her of the most fundamental rights of citizenship," said Young, who serves on the Davis County Cooperative Society's community service committee. "The state will decide where she will live, where she will go to church and who she can and can't associate with — even where she can shop.

"She is an adult and has the right to make this decision no matter how she believes. It's wrong to hold children hostage to further a political agenda."

Kingston added, "Would you like to be a target because of your religion?"

The state maintains the case is not politically or religiously motivated.

Guardian ad Litem Kristen Brewer said it's her job to prosecute abuse and neglect, no matter what the abuser believes. And Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Nichols said she is doing her job prosecuting domestic violence.

"No. 1, it's not political," Nichols said. "It's not religious. It has to do with abuse, child abuse and domestic violence."

The family landed in court after two of the couple's teenage daughters had their ears pierced in February. The girls, ages 13 and 16, told police they were afraid of their father, who was angry at 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 Mattingly failed to protect the children.

Mattingly will live in a domestic violence shelter for women with her 3-month-old daughter. Brewer said it's the state's ultimate goal to have Mattingly live in a home independent of Kingston's influence. When that time happens, Brewer said, the state would like to return the children to her home.

"It's to get her to look at life a little different and be able to stand on her own two feet," said Andrea Moore-Emmett, president of the Utah chapter of the National Organization for Women.

The couple's other 10 children remain in state custody.

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 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 allegedly has fathered more than 100 children with 14 different wives.

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.