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Woman Having Relationship With Polygamist Loses Court Internship

Woman Having Relationship With Polygamist Loses Court Internship

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A law student who says she is in a relationship with polygamist John Daniel Kingston has lost a planned court internship, but has landed a different one with a law firm.

Laura Fuller blamed 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez for the loss of her summer internship with Juvenile Court Judge Ric Oddone, the Deseret Morning News said.

Valdez was not available for comment, the newspaper said. It said a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts said Fuller's internship was ended because of the "appearance of a conflict of interest."

Valdez presided over much of the child-custody case involving Kingston and Heidi Mattingly-Foster.

Fuller, who was a paralegal for their lawyers, was kicked out of the courtroom when testimony revealed she may be one of Kingston's wives. Valdez chastised her and lawyers in the case. Mattingly-Foster won custody of her children, but the case remains pending before another judge.

Kingston only admits to one wife, Rachael Ann Kingston, to whom he is legally married and has 12 children. He is believed to have more than 100 children with 13 other women, but he has repeatedly taken the Fifth Amendment when asked about the other wives in court.

Fuller told the News that she was not a polygamist wife.

"He (Kingston) didn't purport to marry. We are in a committed relationship and he is the father of my children," she said. "I am one of the ladies in his family."

Linda Smith, professor and clinical program director for the University of Utah law school, said Valdez spoke to her about Fuller. Smith said the conversation did not influence the new internship placement arranged for Fuller in a Salt Lake City law firm.

"Judge Valdez did call me," she said. "But his insights are not driving our decision-making. Judge Oddone had already made the decision."

Smith said Oddone had spoken to her assistant, expressing concern about a conflict of interest to have Fuller serving in a clerking capacity when she has been involved in a case still pending in juvenile court.

Fuller said she decided to become a lawyer after criminal and civil cases against the Kingston clan. In 2000, she enrolled in Salt Lake Community College's paralegal program. Currently, she is a second-year law student and an MBA student at the University of Utah.

"I will provide legal representation for and give a voice to individuals who for generations have not been heard," she said.

The polygamous Kingston clan has an estimated 1,200 members and runs a $150 million business empire that includes pawn shops, markets, restaurant supply stores, dairies and mines throughout Utah. Critics contend it teaches and promotes sexual abuse of young girls through illegal marriages, incest and polygamy. Members of the group contend they live a religious and lawful existence.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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