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Polygamous Mormon Sect Is Actually a Sex Trafficking Cult: Lawsuit

Jon G. Fuller/Getty Images
Jon G. Fuller/Getty Images

A polygamous religious community in Utah is actually a criminal cult that trafficked young girls and forced them into early marriages that were sometimes incestuous, a new lawsuit alleges.

Ten women who left or escaped the alleged sect led by Paul Elden Kingston on Wednesday filed a federal complaint against Kingston, thirteen of his family members, and several other members. The complaint, which is nearly 140 pages long, also names as defendants dozens of businesses and entities ranging from restaurants, grocery stores, the Mormon fundamentalist denomination Latter Day Church of Christ, and an allegedly fake “bank” operated by the cult.

The complaint alleges that the cult actively practices sex trafficking, sexual abuse, child abuse, and forced labor. In some cases, Kingston forced girls to marry men they were related to and suffer repeated domestic abuse, the lawsuit claims.

“Some Plaintiffs were forced to ‘marry’ close relatives, who then beat and raped them,” the complaint alleges. “Almost all were denied an ordinary education, physically abused (or threatened with abuse), taught to fear outsiders, and forced to work for years of their childhoods, often in grueling jobs, with little or no pay.”

The complaint describes a Handmaid’s Tale style of governance where divorce was outlawed and the girls were expected to have as many children as possible. They were allegedly told that it was their “responsibility” to grow the cult by having children, “and that they must submit sexually, even against their will, to their husbands in order to produce children.”

‘One Tree Hill’ Star Names the ‘Sinister’ Cult She Was in for 10 Years

The group—internally called the Order—allegedly made young children work for its businesses before they were legally allowed to, some of them starting as young as 4 years old. One of the defendants named in the suit, Standard Restaurant Supply, was issued a federal citation for violating child labor laws last year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The Order is also accused of making children accomplices to various crimes, ranging from falsifying federal tax returns to destroying evidence in criminal investigations. It regularly ordered them to aid or commit crimes designed to defraud the government, a process it referred to as “Bleeding the Beast,” the complaint says.

According to the plaintiffs, the Order is designed to enrich Kingston and his immediate family by forcing other families to work without pay or for very little pay.

“It is a massive financial enterprise where all members work to contribute to the needs, wants, and objectives of Paul Elden Kingston and his family, to the detriment of the individual members,” the complaint reads. “The Order withholds paychecks from working Order members and controls members’ wages while avoiding liability for labor law violations.”

On Thursday, the presiding judge ordered attorneys to draft a proposed schedule for further proceedings, court records show. As of Friday, there were no filings by the defense.

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