2 Kingstons sue former member, claim defamation

Men want $2,000 for each report of news conference

Deseret Morning News/February 13, 2004
By Angie Welling and Laura Hancock

Two members of the Kingston polygamy clan sued a former member and her attorneys this week, claiming she defamed them at a news conference that announced a $110 million civil lawsuit against 242 Kingston family members and 97 businesses.

Stephen Kingston, of Arizona, and Ted Kingston, Las Vegas, filed separate lawsuits in U.S. District Court, each seeking at least $2,000 for each news media report of the news conference and at least $1 for each person who saw the coverage.

The suits, filed Wednesday, list some 79 separate news organizations that published reports of the Aug. 28 news conference.

Mary Ann Kingston read a statement during the news conference. "I am pursuing this lawsuit with the hope that other young girls and boys in the same position that I was in will see that: The leaders of the Kingston organization are not above the law even though they tell us they are, that they can be punished for what they do to us, and that we can escape and seek recovery for the harm that was done to us," she said.

Mary Ann Kingston's suit alleges she suffered sexual and physical abuse after being forced to become her uncle's teenage bride and was severely beaten when she tried to escape the relationship.

The new lawsuits say the comments at the press conference indicate Stephen Kingston and Ted Kingston "promote sexual abuse of minor girls and incest, consider themselves above the law, and are personally liable to (Mary Ann Kingston) in damages for injuries caused by alleged incestuous sexual abuse and physical abuse."

Mary Ann Kingston and her attorneys intended for the statements made at the press conference to be printed and broadcast widely. Statements "were made in a gratuitous press conference instituted by (Mary Ann Kingston) and her agents to persons having no connection to any judicial proceeding," the suits state.

Stephen Kingston and Ted Kingston have been affected personally, professionally and financially by the press conference. They were defamed and their privacy was invaded, the suits state.

Attorney Mark Hansen, who filed the lawsuits on behalf of the two men, refused to comment Wednesday evening. He would not disclose the relationship between Stephen Kingston and Ted Kingston.

Carl Kingston, a second attorney listed on the lawsuits, did not return calls for comment Wednesday evening.

Mary Ann Kingston's attorneys believe Stephen Kingston is the son of Carl Kingston, who often represents members of the polygamous clan in court proceedings. Carl Kingston has filed similar allegations in the pending state civil lawsuit, as has another member of the Kingston family, they said. Motions to dismiss those allegations are pending.

Attorneys for Mary Ann Kingston disputed the validity of the men's claims Wednesday.

"Generally we would say that the allegations of their lawsuit are without any merit," said John Morris, Mary Ann Kingston's attorney.

Added Morris' partner, William Mark: "The allegations of our press conference are absolutely true."

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