A 13-year-old daughter of one of the leaders of the Kingston polygamist clan was in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services Tuesday after running away from home.

A hearing to determine whether the girl — who allegedly told officials she was being prepared for marriage to a 21-year-old man — should be returned to her home or remain in state custody was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The girl was picked up by Sandy police Friday at a friend's house near 8400 South and 1900 East, said Sandy Police Lt. Kevin Thacker. The friend's grandmother called police and told them the girl had run away and had been staying with them since Oct. 31, he said.

At that time, the girl had not been reported as a runaway to police, Thacker said. But according to a Sandy Police report, the girl told officers she was the daughter of Daniel Kingston and that she ran away from home because she "didn't like it there."

Rowenna Erickson, co-founder of the group Tapestry of Polygamy, said the girl is the daughter of Kingston clan leader John Daniel Kingston.

A judge could decide at Tuesday's hearing where the girl should be placed, said DCFS spokeswoman Carol Sisco. The judge could send the girl back to her home, let her remain in state custody, take the case under advisement or continue the hearing, she said.

Right now, the hearing has nothing to do with the family's polygamous beliefs, Sisco said.

"The primary issue is not polygamy. It's allegations of maltreatment and some abuse," said Sisco.

However, a report from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office said the girl told a DCFS worker assigned to the case that she was taking marriage preparation classes through the family's home schooling and that a 21-year-old man had already been selected to be her future husband.

The girl also said she is afraid to return to her home because of the discipline she faces if she refuses to marry the man, the sheriff's report stated.

Erickson also claimed the girl was being prepped by the Kingstons to wed. The girl's parents had arranged a marriage between the girl and a first cousin, she said.

"I think (the wedding) was going to take place next year," said Erickson." Maybe they were waiting until she was 14."

Under Utah law, it's illegal for a child under 14 years old to marry. When children turn 14, they may marry if the parents give their legal consent.

Simply living in a polygamist home is not grounds for removing a child from the house, Sisco said. But DCFS does investigate cases where the girl is involved in an illegal marriage or is in immediate risk of entering into an illegal marriage, she said.

Kingston was convicted of second-degree felony child abuse in 1999 for belt-whipping a daughter, then 16. He was sentenced to 28 weeks in jail.

In October, a 15-year-old son of Kingston who had allegedly been selected to be the future leader of the clan ran away from home. DCFS and the Utah Attorney General's Office are investigating that case.


Contributing: Laura Hancock

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