Lawsuit alleges child marriage and rape in Utah polygamist cult

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Women members of a polygamous group in Utah have said in a lawsuit that they were forced into early marriages in which their husbands raped them and that they had to perform child labor in the group’s businesses.

The northern Utah-based Kingston Group, also known as The Order, arranged such marriages so that the girls would become pregnant and indebted to their husbands and the group, the lawsuit filed in court on Wednesday alleges. of Salt Lake City State.

“Daughters of the order are taught from birth that their primary goals in life are to be obedient, a submissive wife, and to have as many children as possible,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit brought by 10 people against members of the Kingston group, including leader Paul Eldon Kingston, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The group sought to maintain “Pure Kingston Blood” by arranging marriages between cousins ​​and other close relatives and avoiding relationships that were not between white people, according to the lawsuit.

The group teaches its members that only those with so-called pure blood will survive the apocalypse, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit describes a patriarchal group and a doctrine known as “The Law of One Above Another”, in which everyone has a rank in the hierarchy of the group. Women and girls, after marriage, submit to their husbands and men answer to men of higher rank.

Men gain prominence by being obedient and “pure” in blood and having large families that can “produce a lot of money and workers” for the group, according to the lawsuit. Women gain status by being “pure” in blood and obedient. , becoming the first wives of higher-ranking “numbered men” and bearing numerous children, according to the lawsuit.

But women who disobey and fail to have children — including because they miscarry — face ostracism, according to the lawsuit.

“It is a common and intentional practice in the Order to require girls and women to submit sexually to their husbands even if the sexual submission is against their will, for having children entrains workers for the benefit of the Order,” the lawsuit states.

Five of the women who sued alleged that they had been forced into marriage when they were minors and raped by their husbands; three others, including Amanda Grant, who claims she suffered years of childhood sexual abuse from a half-brother, said they fled to escape such a fate. Grant would later appear in the television series “Escaping Polygamy”. The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly.

A young child is also being prosecuted. The lawsuit said the child was raped by his father, who allegedly raped the mother.

Lone man suing says three Order men raped him when he was 16 or 17 and when he left the group and came out as gay he was found and severely beaten by a group of boys “acting under the direction of the Order”. the lawsuit alleges.

Exhibiting LGBTQ+ “tendencies” may indicate “impure” blood, according to the lawsuit.

John Gustafson, a representative for the Davis County Cooperative Society, a subsidiary of the Kingston Group, disputed the lawsuit allegations on Friday.

“Much of what we have reviewed appears frivolous and baseless,” Gustafson said in an emailed statement. “We do not expect any of the claims to prevail in court.”

The group has already attracted the attention of justice.

During a 2020 trial for a California businessman accused of carrying out a nearly $500 million biodiesel fraud scheme with a member of the Kingston Group, the businessman’s attorneys called the “incestuous” polygamous group Kingstons who always plotted to defraud the U.S. government in what the group calls “bleeding the beast”.

A spokesman for the group, Kent Johnson, called the allegations “categorically false”.

The Kingston group is not affiliated with a polygamous group based on the Utah-Arizona line that is led by imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting girls he considered to be brides. .

The groups, whose members believe that polygamy brings exaltation to heaven, are offshoots of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the traditional church, which abandoned the practice in 1890 and now strictly forbids it.

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Brady McCombs of Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

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