The lawsuit alleges that the so-called Kingston Group forced underage women to marry their relatives and perform labor for the organization’s businesses.
A group of women, along with a single man, have filed a lawsuit against a Utah-based polygamous order, claiming they were sexually assaulted by their husbands and forced to perform child labor.
According to ABC News, the complaint claims that the so-called Kingston Group, also known as “the Order,” arranged marriages between its members and young women so that the underage brides would become pregnant and feel obligated to obey the organization’s commands.
“Order girls are taught from birth that their primary purposes in life are to be obedient, a submissive wife, and to bear as many children as possible,” the lawsuit says.
ABC News notes that the complaint was filed by 10 individuals against the Kingston Group, including its leader, Paul Eldon Kingston, and seeks a jury trial and unspecified compensatory damages.
In their filing, the plaintiffs say that the group tried to maintain “Pure Kingston Blood” by arranging marriages between cousins and other close relatives.
The Kingston Group also allegedly prevented its members from marrying non-White people.
The lawsuit describes the Kingston Group as following a doctrine called “The Law of One Above Another,” in which every member of the order is assigned a particular hierarchical rank.
Women, say the plaintiffs, are required to submit to their husbands, while the organization’s men are beholden to comparably high-ranking men.
The Kingston Group’s men allegedly rise within the Order’s ranks by being obedient, “pure of blood,” and raising large families that can “produce a lot of money and workers” for the organization.
However, women who are not obedient and cannot bear children—even if they miscarry—could be ostracized.
“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 because having children results in workers for the benefit of the Order,” the lawsuit claims.
Five the female plaintiffs say that they were coerced into marriages when they were underage and subsequently raped by their husbands.
The only male plaintiff listed in the lawsuit said that he was raped by other Order men when he was 16 or 17 years old.
When the plaintiff “came out” as homosexual and tried to leave the Order, he was allegedly “tracked down” and beaten by a group of young men who were “acting at the direction of the” Kingston Group.
Representatives for the organization have denied the allegations, calling them unfounded.
“Much of what we have reviewed appears frivolous and unfounded,” said John Gustafson, a spokesperson for the Kingston Group-affiliated Davis County Cooperative Society. “We don’t expect any of the claims to prevail in a court of law.”
ABC News observes that the Kingston Group has attracted scrutiny in the past.
During the 2020 trial of a California businessman accused of masterminding a $500 million biodiesel fraud scheme in collaboration with the Kingston Group, attorneys for the businessman described the Order as an “incestuous” polygamous group that customarily tries to defraud the U.S. federal government as part of a process it calls “bleeding the beast.”
The Kingston Group, adds ABC News, is an “offshoot” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.