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Kingston Daughter Speaks Out

Kingston Daughter Speaks Out

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Sandra Yi ReportingNew legal developments in the custody case of polygamist, John Daniel Kingston, and the teen who sparked the year-long battle is speaking out publicly for the first time.

Stephanie Mattingly: "The hardest thing, actually, the most hardest thing, the way hardest thing, is accepting that you're not going to go to hell."

Stephanie Mattingly is the daughter of John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly. A year ago she and her nine siblings were placed in state custody after allegations of abuse. A juvenile court judge ordered Kingston not to see his children, but the state is working to reunite Mattingly with her children.

Stephanie told our Sandra Yi she doesn't want to go back. She says that's partly because her mother doesn't plan to leave the Kingston clan. And going back to that, she says, would hurt her future.

Stephanie is in state custody and officials are aware she's talking us. The teen was anxious to tell her story, she says, to educate people about polygamy and to help other kids who are looking for a way out.

Stephanie Mattingly: "It's been really hard. Mainly it's been hard emotionally. It's hard to break away from anyone and everything you've ever known and loved."

But Stephanie Mattingly doesn't ever want to go back to her old life in the Kingston polygamous clan.

Stephanie Mattingly: "I don't want to go back because I don't want to be abused anymore."

Stephanie, who just turned 17, told us and has testified in court that as a young girl she was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by her father, John Daniel Kingston. She ran away several times, but was always sent back to her family. She doesn't want that again for her or her eight siblings who have been caught in the middle of a year-long custody battle.

Stephanie Mattingly: "I feel we are in the same situation now, and once the kids are home and the case is closed, we will hear their cries for help once again."

She says life in the clan wasn't easy. She says she was four when she was put to work at one of the Kingston's businesses. At age 10 she worked full time and helped support her mother.

Stephanie Mattingly: "My dad did not support her in any way. Let me rephrase that. John Daniel did not support her financially, in any way."

Stephanie says she was only 12 when her father began preparing her for marriage. She says girls don't have a choice.

Stephanie Mattingly: "You start to teach yourself, this is what I'm going to learn to, like, I'm going to learn to like this, I'm going to learn to accept this, and this is what I'm going to do."

Stephanie wants to break from her past, but is also paving her future. She wants to be adopted by her foster family, and one day become a police officer and help abused kids. But moving forward isn't always easy.

Stephanie Mattingly: "I still go through the process of telling myself that, 'no, you're not going to hell because you left your family. And no, you're not going to go to hell because you don't want to get abused.' And that's the hardest thing to accept."

Heidi Mattingly's says she understands that Stephanie does not want to come home. Still, she says, it's very important to her that she get all her children back.

Calls to John Daniel Kingston's attorney, were not returned.

The next hearing in the Kingston custody case is scheduled for Tuesday, although Heidi Mattingly's attorney tells us it may be delayed.

The Utah Attorney General's Office filed a motion today, requesting that Judge Andrew Valdez recuse himself from the case.

In April Valdez's son, Tito, was arrested for disorderly conduct after a protest outside the courthouse.

The attorney general's office is concerned about a possible conflict of interest because witnesses in that case also are members of the Kingston clan.

Tomorrow's Deseret Morning News will have much more on the case.

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