Summarized by Eric Bunker
Polygamist Charged With Incest Going on Trial Today
Salt Lake Tribune 1Jun99 L7
By C. G. Wallace: Associated Press
Utah Polygamist, David O. Kingston is currently standing trial accused of
three felony counts of incest and one count of unlawful sexual contact, as
the result of taking his niece as his 15th wife and having sex with her.
The girl's father, John Daniel Kingston, recently pleaded to a reduced
charge for belt-whipping the girl after she fled the arranged marriage to
his brother. However, David Kingston has rejected a plea bargain and says
he is innocent. John Kingston could receive up to five years in prison.
David Kingston could get up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on
each of four counts if convicted.
This case has exposed the seamy side of modern polygamy and brought foreign
film crews to Utah for the trial. Legal insiders say that the intense media
coverage and the sensitive subject of polygamy could make it difficult to
select an impartial jury.
The case broke open last summer when the 16-year-old girl showed up at a
rural gas station just south of the Idaho border. She had run seven miles
from a remote family ranch, where she said her father beat her for
disavowing the forced marriage. Criminal charges then followed.
A political bombshell exploded in the news media when Utah Gov. Michael
Leavitt, himself a great-grandson of polygamists, offhandedly suggested the
practice might enjoy religious protection under the US Constitution.
Leavitt quickly disowned the statement. It has been a political 'Hot
Potato' in light of the coming Olympics.
David Kingston's defense will be that he never had sex with his niece. His
Lawyer has already has assailed her "inconsistent statements" about how many
times they had sex. Prosecutors say it happened four times in 1997 and 1998.
Kingston is an accountant for the secretive Kingston clan based in Salt Lake
County that has as many as 1,000 members and business assets worth up to
$150 million. The clan shares many of the beliefs of other polygamous
groups in the state but stands apart in practicing incestual marriages to
young related females.
The modern-day polygamists, unlike 70 percent of Utah's population, are not
members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But their
practices have roots in the early church, when founder Joseph Smith
sanctioned plural marriage. Polygamy arrived in Utah in 1847 with some
Mormon pioneers. The church later renounced it to stay solvent and keeps its
leaders out of jail, and the Utah Constitution outlawed polygamy as a
condition of statehood.
Still, Utah has an estimated 25,000 members of polygamous clans. Though
some are quite ultra conservative in dress and manners, many of them
continue to observe major segments of Mormon doctrine, but are convinced
that the church was wrong to abandon plural marriage. However, they differ
with the Church in the doctrine of Celestial Marriage in that it is the
central doctrine of their faith and they feel one cannot obtain the highest
degree in the Celestial worlds without a plural marriage.
No large-scale bigamy cases have been prosecuted since the 1950s, when state
and federal agents turned out the town of Short Creek on the Utah-Arizona
order. The incident backfired when the public, enraged by images of
families being torn apart, protested and authorities backed off.