A 13-year-old daughter of one of the leaders of the Kingston polygamist clan will remain in state custody while state officials investigate allegations of "emotional maltreatment and some abuse," according one official.

Lawyers for the girl, her mother, her father, the Utah Attorney General's Office and others appeared before 3rd District Juvenile Judge Robert S. Yeates on Tuesday. Juvenile hearings customarily are closed to the public and media. The girl did not appear in court Tuesday.

Carol Sisco, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Human Services, said after the hearing that the girl "is OK," and that another hearing will be held in November.

The girl was picked up by Sandy police on Friday, and a friend's grandmother told police the girl had run away and had been staying with them since Oct. 31. The girl had not been reported as a runaway.

The girl allegedly told a Department of Children and Family Services worker that she was being groomed for marriage to a 21-year-old man and that she was afraid to go home because of the punishment she faces if she does not marry him, according to a report from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.

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

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

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 home because of the discipline she faces if she refuses to marry the man, the sheriff's report stated.

Erickson also said 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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