Salt Lake City -- A juvenile court judge has ruled that two children fathered by prominent polygamist John Daniel Kingston were abused and neglected.
Judge Andrew Valdez ruled late Thursday that an uncle and aunt who are not part of the Kingston cult will have temporary custody of the 13-year-old girl and the 15-year-old girl will be in a foster facility. Both girls will be able to visit their mother and siblings.
Valdez said they had been abused and neglected by their father and their mother had been negligent in protecting them.
Valdez said all 10 children of Kingston and Heidi Foster, who have gone by the surname of Foster, were entitled to be named Kingston and also were entitled to inheritance.
"The name is Kingston, sir, and they have a right to their own names," Valdez said.
The two girls ran away from home after they allegedly were threatened with beatings for getting their ears pierced. The girls have been in state custody for more than two months.
The trial started May 20. In it, the state accused Kingston and Foster of a decade-long pattern of abusing and neglecting their 10 children.
Foster has been investigated by the Utah Department of Child and Family Services at least three times since 1994, and found each time to have neglected her children by not providing enough supervision or a clean home.
Kingston is believed to have approximately 100 children with around 14 wives.
Kingston's attorney, Daniel Irvin, argued that his client had done nothing wrong and was being persecuted for his reputation as a polygamist.
"If this was John Smith or John Christianson, we wouldn't be here. But it's John Daniel Kingston," Irvin said.
The testimony of the two runaways differed significantly, with the 13-year-old providing a much more grim picture of abuse that she said her mother and her siblings endured at Kingston's hands.
Irvin used that in an attempt to discredit the younger girls' testimony, saying that nothing corroborated her accusations. He said the girls weren't ever harmed over the earring incident.
"This is a case about stupid earrings. Kids who want one thing and parents who want another," Irvin said.
Guardian ad Litem Kristin Brewer responded that the 15-year-old was scared to say bad things about her family because she feared being returned to them. She said the child had run away four times, each time only to be returned home.
"She knows the drill. You go out for a while, and then you go back," she said.
Kingston pleaded no contest in 1999 to felony child abuse after beating his 16-year-old daughter for running away from a prearranged polygamous marriage to one his brothers.
The Kingston clan, also known as the Order, includes an estimated 1,200 members. The secretive group has amassed a $150 million business empire, running companies that include pawn shops, restaurant supply stores, dairies and mines.