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Kim Johnson ReportingThe state of Utah continues to crack down on polygamy. Today several children were removed from the home of the Kingston clan. Tonight the Kingstons are saying the state's "purpose, is to take all the children from all polygamist parents and break up their families."
Eight children in all were removed today on a judge's order. State child welfare authorities took the children into custody following a court hearing today.
The children belong to John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly. The children weren't present at the court proceeding, but were taken afterwards to a shelter for abused children. One child, a three month old baby, was allowed to remain with Mattingly.
At issue in court today was a petition filed by the Guardian ad Litem's office alleging abuse and neglect. Carol Sisco from the state's division of child and family services says Judge Andy Valdez granted the petition to have the children removed because case workers were being denied access to them.
John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly have 11 children together. Earlier this year they lost custody of their two oldest daughters who ran away and sought refuge with a relative who'd left the polygamist life.
Andrea Emmett, an anti-polygamy activist who's written a book about the Kingston's and other polygamous families, applauds the judge's decision. Emmett was in court last June when the two oldest children were removed, and says from what she heard, the other eight children should have been taken then too.
Andrea Moore Emmett, Author: “The abuse talked about was hitting the children with boards, throwing them down the stairs, seeing their mother being thrown down the stairs, forcing them to eat rotten food, and when the vomited, forcing them to drink their own vomit.”
Earlier this year John Daniel Kingston was ordered to pay $3,100 a month in family support for the children he has with Mattingly. He also pleaded no contest in 1999 to felony child abuse for beating his 16-year old daughter because she refused to marry her uncle.
Heidi Mattingly has been investigated by the DCFS at least three times since 1994, and found each time to have neglected her children by not providing adequate supervision or a clean home.
Again, the Kingstons are calling on DCFS to return the children, saying the agency's purpose is to take children from polygamist parents and break up their families.
All parties involved will meet again in court on Friday to determine whether the children will be returned to their parents.