Judge doubts mom, kids should reunite

Custody: He is dubious Heidi Foster - whose children were fathered by John Daniel Kingston - can ever be a fit mother

The Salt Lake Tribune/November 4, 2004
By Brooke Adams

Heidi Mattingly Foster will be allowed to live in her newly purchased home for now, but her prospects of being reunited with her children soon - if ever - seem dim.

After a hearing Wednesday, 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez said he has no reason to view her as a fit mother, based upon a psychological evaluation and her decadelong involvement with the Division of Child and Family Services.

The judge said Foster "continues to spin the case as one of being persecuted because of her name, rather than the abuse, neglect and failure to protect her children. The spin is shallow and I think borderline ludicrous."

Valdez ordered Foster, 33, to get counseling and attend a domestic violence class. He also told her to provide proof her new home has no connection to polygamist John Daniel Kingston, father of her 11 children, or members of The Order, as the Kingston family's Davis County Cooperative Society is known.

And he told Foster and Kingston, who was not present in court, to provide copies of their cell phone records - and in Kingston's case, home and business phone records - as a check on a no-contact order issued two weeks ago.

For now, 10 of Foster's children remain in foster care; she has custody of her 4-month-old daughter.

Both Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Nichols and Kristen Brewer, director of the Guardian Ad Litem's Office, oppose letting Foster regain custody of her children.

"And we have been since day one, based on the 10-year history," Brewer said after the hearing.

They allege Foster is physically and emotionally abusive - claims apparently bolstered by a new interview with her 13-year-old daughter.

But according to court testimony, the DCFS has never officially investigated Foster for child abuse or domestic violence.

Foster's attorney Russ Pietryga argued Wednesday that she agreed to change her life on the premise the state would eventually reunite her and the children.

Now, after complying with the court's orders - finding a new home, having no contact with Kingston or members of The Order, submitting to parenting and attachment evaluations - the state is changing its position, he said.

"It's almost like saying 'We're just joking with you there,' " Pietryga said.

Valdez set a hearing for Nov. 10 to decide whether to reunite Foster and her children on a trial basis.

On Wednesday, Valdez also told Foster to provide names of people who donated money she used to make the downpayment on her house. Nichols said Foster had told the court she had just $200 in savings.

This is just one more instance of her not being truthful," said Nichols.

Foster told Valdez she planned initially to take money from a savings/credit account with The Order, but realized that violated the no-contact order. Strangers then stepped in with donations.

Nichols raised concerns about nearly every move Foster has made in the past two weeks, including avoiding members of The Order. "I have no way to verify that she is not having contact," Nichols said.

That prohibition caused a brief disruption Wednesday when Nichols pointed out, more than an hour into the hearing, that numerous members of The Order, including Foster's parents, were in the courtroom.

Valdez ordered all of them to leave, and chastised Foster for not informing him of their presence.

The judge also disclosed that someone affiliated with the Kingston group was spotted installing surveillance equipment in the courthouse's secured parking area on Oct. 29, leading to heightened security at court as well as for himself and his family.

"I'm not stating I'm the target, but I'm stating it has resulted in heightened security for my family," Valdez said. Valdez said he plans to remain on the case.

Valdez also said suspicious vehicles have been cruising by the two foster homes where seven of Foster's children are staying; her 15-year-old son is in a secure juvenile facility.

On Oct. 21, Valdez - at the behest of Pie- tryga - ordered Foster into a domestic violence shelter and to leave her home, job, family and church.

Three days earlier, he had removed eight children from Foster's home after state attorneys said she was not cooperating with a DCFS caseworker or following court orders.

The couple landed in court earlier this year after an altercation with their two oldest daughters over ear piercing opened allegations of child abuse and neglect. Those teens also are in protective custody.

John Daniel Kingston will be in court today for a review of court-ordered child support and visitation with his children.

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