Child trafficking is the illegal movement of children, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation (Erase Child Trafficking). For this article we will focus on forced child labor in the context of modern day slavery that takes place in the Kingston polygamous group.
Many children begin working before 10 years-old for one of the various Kingston ran businesses. This practice began when the Kingston group first started as the Davis Cooperative Society (DCS) in 1935. The Kingston group gets away with this practice by the claiming that children are "working" for family owned businesses. However, the hours and responsibilities these children took on at these businesses surpass the legal allowance for children "working" at family owned business.
The children are taught that it's their birthright to build up the kingdom of God, and it is a privilege to begin working at a young age to "save-up" for their teen marriages. The children of the real world are wasting their youth, while we have this blessed opportunity to work. Many children were told that public education was not important because they would be taught everything they needed to know to hold the positions at these businesses. Some girls were even told that they could not continue their education beyond the eighth grade.
As children working for this polygamous group, we did not realize we were modern day slaves. We were not aware that we were being trafficked to advance the businesses of the Kingston group. A brief description of our childhood work experience is listed below.
Jessica Kingston started working at Advanced Vending when she was about 6 or 7 years-old. Her responsibilities consisted of janitorial work cleaning bathrooms, warehouse floors, dirty vending machines, and the offices. As she got older more responsibilities were added.
"I think I was 8 when I started counting the money. I remember the money bags were almost as big as I was so I used a cart type thing to bring them back to the money room from the safe. Then I started sorting chips, cookies, and cigarettes for the route drivers to take and fill the machines. I honestly loved it some days and felt too tired some days; the tired days were the ones I didn’t love it. It made me a hard worker and I appreciate that, but the point is, I never knew how much I was getting paid or if I was getting paid. I knew I was helping the order and that was enough for me."
She worked at Advanced Vending, until 14 years-old when she was sent to work for Arrow Real Estate and the Law Office. Both companies were housed in the same building so she worked for both. She sat at the front desk and greeted anyone coming in to see the attorneys. She also helped the attorney David with some of his accounts receivables/payables. For Arrow Real Estate, she did checklists to make sure the agents were taking care of their properties. She assisted her mother in site visits to the properties and taking updated photos for the listings. Jessica does not believe she ever received payment from her work with the Law Office and helping the attorney. She continued working at this location until she married Ryan Kingston as his first wife at 16 years-old.
After she was married, Jessica was told to work at Standard Restaurant located at 3500 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT.
ANDREA then FOSTER
At the age of 5 years, Andrea began working at Washakie Ranch, owned by the Kingston polygamous group. The hours varied during the summer time and school year. Summer hours required that Andrea attend the 7am meeting to begin the workday, which ended at dinner time around 5-6pm. During the spring and fall, while in a public elementary school, Andrea was expected to work after school for a few hours and some weekends. During the winter there was very little ranch work for the kids, so Andrea did not work during this time. The work included moving hand pipe; caring for animals including cows, ostriches, chickens, and bees; gardening; building electrical fences for the fields; and torching a dilapidated house. Andrea worked with the cattle as young as seven years old when she helped with herding, castrating, and branding. She remembers being lost and nearly trampled in the herd of cattle as they towered over her for miles. Andrea slaughtered chickens barefoot, and moved pipe with sometimes only one pair of shoes to share with two other kids. "I remember when it was my turn to wear a shoe. I put my bare foot on top of the shoe and hopped my end of the pipe to the next row. After a few pipe, we switched. We had to communicate out in the field, one child shouting to the other 'twist, pull' and sometimes the end of the pipe dragged across my bare skin, leaving scars on my feet." Some days, Andrea was responsible for watching her younger siblings while her mom was out plowing the field. She could not have been more than 8 years old and there were 5 younger kids, from infancy to 7 years old. Andrea cared for the younger kids for hours and hours. The closest house was at least a quarter mile away, and there were no cell phones to call her mom out in the field. She was on her own.
At 8 years-old Andrea ‘s family moved down to the Salt Lake City area where she spent her summer months working with her mom at in Order office building known as "the Beckstreet Office" which housed many businesses. She began doing the maintenance and basic office work such as filing and mailings for A-1 Disposal. Around 9 years-old Andrea started answering phones for the order’s banking system, “the cardline.” Around 10 years-old, she began training for AAA Communications, which served as an answering service for outsider’s and order businesses.
Andrea also helped out at the Order school, Ensign Learning Center, with the cleaning, cafeteria, and “milk run”. The older classes took turns doing the janitorial work for the school. Why hire a janitor when you have a school full of children who can do the work for free? “I’ve always had sensitive skin and in the dry Utah winters would make my skin crack. I remember cleaning the walls at the school and my skin burned from the chemicals. I asked my teacher if I could do a different task, or at least have some gloves to wear. Of course, the answer was no.” Andrea was excused from class to help with the “milk run,” sorting through cottage cheese, milk, and yogurt to bring the outdated dairy products back to the school for lunches. “At the time, it seemed fun. Looking back, I’m appalled that our mothers paid for us to be fed rotting food.”
Andrea worked after school and full-time in the summers as she followed her mother to work at Advanced Copy and Printing when she was about 11 years-old. During the school year she rode the Order's school bus to work until close, then rode home with her mom and worked open to close on Saturdays. Andrea did production at the print shop filling a variety of customer orders, including binding books, printing, and working with various industrial machines. She also worked on the industrial sewing machine for Advanced Emblem, which was in the same building. She worked the trade-shows and other various tasks that were requested of her. Her hours consisted of working late into the evenings and sometimes night shift to meet production deadlines. The smell of the glue gave her headaches and she was terrified of the sharp blade on the industrial paper cutter. When the government inspectors walked through the shop, Andrea and the other children hid in the photo dark room, while the adults on the other side of the door told the inspectors the door could not be opened because film was being developed.
At 12 years old, Andrea was training to do the accounting, beginning with payroll and accounts receivable for Order customers. She specifically remembers one of her managers, another wife of John Daniel Kingston telling her to shave off some of the hours for the employees to pay them less. "When I asked why, my manager explained those members were not always living up to Order standards and doing the Lord's work, so they didn't earn the money, even though they had actually worked the hour. They apparently 'owed' the work to the Lord for their actions in other areas of their lives."
By the time Andrea left Polygamy at 12 years old her work experience already covered more than half her life. Wages were based on age, and capped out around $2 an hour before she left. Andrea was paid directly through the Order’s banking system, and could not take any of her money with her. Instead, AFTER becoming a ward of the state, her savings went to her mom for monthly rent and attorney’s fees for the attorneys representing her parents in the dependency case for which she was an abused and neglected child; her account was completely drained.
JESSICA CHRISTENSEN then STEPHANIE FOSTER
Jessica (Stephanie at the time) recalls sporadically going to work with her mother from age 5-7 years-old at different jobs her mother held in the Kingston businesses. During this young age, she remembers performing random cleaning tasks and simple tasks around the office, but she did not have a regular work schedule. She remembers seeing piles of money being transported by carts at the Dixon building where she lived in the basement. She also remembers hiding under the desk at Advanced Copy and Printing when customers were present.
When Jessica was 8 years-old her family moved to Washakie and Jessica began a regular summer work schedule on the ranch for the next 3 years. She was fortunate to attend the local public school during the school year, and only worked during the spring, summer, and fall time of the year. The spring and fall hours were after school and only some weekends. The summer hours began at 7am with a morning meeting, until dinner around 5-6pm. Jessica recalls her responsibilities and experience at the ranch during these 3 years to include herding cows, branding cows, feeding cattle, milking cows, feeding the bison, gathering ostrich eggs, raising chickens, killing chickens and preparing the meat, gardening, driving tractors, moving hand pipes, moving wheel lines, building bee boxes, building barbed wire fences, building electric fences, burning down a home that was in the middle of a field, and managed a team of other children doing similar responsibilities. The summers were hot, the hours were long. Jessica has many physical scars from the hard labor, and has a large scar on her upper right thigh from a chair being stabbed in her leg while at work in the barn.
"I was being called for noon meditation by Daniel's first wife who was visiting Washakie at the time. I was running through the dark barn from one end to the other because I knew I would be punished if I was late to meditation. I fell in the dark and remember feeling a sharp pain through my leg, but I got up and continued to run. There was something attached to my leg, I reached down to realize it was a metal folding chair. I grabbed the chair and untangled it from my legs while continue to jog toward the calls for my name. The sharp pain increased as I tossed the chair to the side, I reached down toward my knee where the pain was throbbing and my hands were filled with a slimy substance. As I neared the light, I looked down and saw my entire leg to my toes covered in blood. Rachel Ann insisted I finish meditation before I headed into lunch at Matt Gustafson's house where he cleaned up my leg. The cut was a few inches deep, covered the width of my leg, and was about 2 inches tall. Matt tried to close the wound for stitches, but decided my skin was too tough and would break the stitches. He covered it with dinosaur band aids instead, and I ate my lunch then headed back out to finish my work day. My mother did not find out about the injury until the end of my shift, after dinner. Injuries were regular occurrences throughout the work day that we covered with mud to muddle the pain. We also drank from the dirty reservoir water that had dead cows and other animals in it. Even as I am writing this I find my heart racing, and the beginnings of a panic attack recalling some of these memories. We were often in dangerous situations and we are lucky no one died. However, ironically this is one of my favorite times in my childhood, I challenged myself to have fun while working and felt satisfaction as I would challenge myself to keep up with the guys."
When John Daniel Kingston (number 15) was let out of jail Jessica's (Stephanie at the time) family was moved back to the Salt Lake area. She did not have a regular job at this time, but was often placed on project teams for construction, heavy labor, cleaning, tending to mothers on bed rest, janitorial work while being a student at the Order's elementary school, and the "milk runs". The "milk run" was a term coined by Order members referring to the process of going to the local grocery store warehouse to pick up outdated food. The story to the grocer was that the food went to the farm animals. However, the truth is that the food was sorted from outdated to rotten, and the outdated food was brought to the school and served to us children for lunches. There was a time Jessica returned home with her arms covered in bruises from carrying the heavy boxes. Jessica also was excused from class to participate in the work required of her around the Order's elementary school. Jessica does not recall receiving pay for any of this work.
When Jessica was 13 years old in 8th grade, she was expelled from the Order's school, Ensign Learning Center, for saying that her teacher sucks. Her consequence was to be John Daniel Kingston's (number 15) personal assistance without pay for a few months, until she ran away. She cleaned his office, organized paperwork, saw that he had multiple files on each member of his family and court cases, and she was responsible for filing some items into these files. She worked on computers, cleaned, and did whatever Daniel told her to do desperately avoiding physical punishments when she upset him. The hours were during the same hours her mother worked in the office downstairs of the same building, which was about 8am-5pm.
Jessica did not work during the open dependency court case from late 2001 through early 2002. She even got to attend school again. However, once the case closed she was back to work. She began working at the Beckstreet Office for AAA Communications, AAA Security, and A-1 Disposal which were all located in the same office on 624 N 300 W SLC, UT.
After finishing 8th grade, Daniel informed her that she was no longer allowed to attend future schooling and would work from then on to prepare for her marriage. She was 14. Jessica worked the same hours as her mother in the same offices, but on different tasks. Jessica's tasks included filing, answering phones, monitoring alarms, and completing projects around the office. Jessica recalls working Christmas that year, and would often beg Daniel to go back to high school or attend the community college like some of her peers. Instead, she was trained to work night shift for these same businesses and placed on the night shift rotation every 4th week. Night shift duties included dispatch work for A-1 Disposal, answering calls for AAA Communications, and monitoring alarms for AAA Security from 7pm-7am. Jessica was the only one in the office during these hours, unless her sisters joined her for the night to hang out. Some weeks Jessica was also required to take a day shift too. Daniel said she was young, and it would just be one week of being very tired. Jessica recalls many memories of abuse during this time. On a specific occasion she recalls being slapped by Daniel at work, and then being required to take an incoming phone call while in tears and Daniel towering over her. He grabbed her throat when her voice cracked over the phone and muted the call telling her she needed to remain professional. On another occasion, Jessica was required to go to work while having many sicknesses including food poisoning, and specifically recalls Daniel saying "you can be sick at home or you can be sick at work and getting the Lord's work done". During work meetings punishments were often physical slaps or emotional abuse. The statement pictured above for March 2003, shows that Jessica received $5.15 per hour, working 178.8 hours for the month. She was still only 14 years-old. The statement shows where she paid rent to stay with her mother's sister who lived down the street from the building Jessica worked in, but still paid rent to her mother.
At some point during these years, Jessica was called to be on a team of girls that helped monitor new born babies with medical issues. About 4 different girls rotated 4-hour shifts monitoring a baby girl named Sarah. The baby was on oxygen, and our responsibilities were to stay with the baby the full 4 hours without any breaks and stimulate the baby when she would stop breathing. "These memories are very strong for me because during one of my early morning shifts about a week in, I doze off. I woke to see the baby completely blue. I immediately picked up the baby and brought her back. This is an experience I will never forget, and found myself traumatized realizing the seriousness of this baby's life in my hands."
During the summer Jessica turned 15 years-old she was transferred to work for Advanced Copy and Printing where her mother had began working about 6 months prior. Jessica was paid $5.15 per hour and worked the same hours as her mother. Her various responsibilities included industrial printing jobs, photo lab jobs, customer service, cashiering, stocking the front area, pricing items, working trade shows, photographer assistant, worked on the industrial sewing machine with Advanced Emblem, and performing whatever tasks were requested of her. If it was a task she had never done before, her managers would often say "trouble shoot" before she could ask for help. John Daniel Kingston (number 15) managed this stewardship at the time and often smacked people around during meetings. One particular time, Jessica recalls Daniel smacking her in the photo lab where a chemical spilled down her body, burning her upper arms and neck.
Jessica also had a sewing accident with the industrial emblem machine where her hands slipped into the needles while adjusting the product she was embroidering. When she pulled her hand away she felt a throbbing pain in the base of her thumb near her wrist; she noticed the tip of one of the needle was missing. "I looked around all over the floor, but could not find the tip anywhere. My wrist continued to throb and I saw a puncture wound. I was sure the needle was in my hand. I told my boss, she told me to go back to work. I tried to continue my work, but my wrist throbbed. I called Arlen Kingston (number 53) whom I was preparing to marry at the time. He took me to a friend of his to receive an x-ray. The x-ray showed that the tip of the needle was in my bone, and I was told that I could receive medical care as long as I lied and told the doctors that this did not happen at work. The doctors were unsuccessful in removing the needle during surgery, as it was in a delicate bone for my thumb functioning. To this day I still have the tip of the needle in my hand that acts up from time to time causing me throbbing pain."
In December 2003 Jessica was sent away from her family to work at Washakie Ranch as a final preparation for her marriage to Arlen Kingston (number 53). Daniel surprised her with this move to Washakie and she begged him to let her stay living with her mother and younger siblings. Daniel told her that this was a time for her to prove that she was old enough for marriage, and that she was loyal enough to the Order to be married before the age of 18 years old. While at Washakie again Jessica (Stephanie at the time) worked side by side with another man in the Washakie barn slaughtering cows, hanging them to dry, quartering the cows, and preparing the meat. She was back on the ranch schedule, starting work with the 7am meeting and ending with 6pm dinner, with a break for lunch. Jessica recalls the tap water burning her ice cold fingers when she came in to wash up for lunch and shower after dinner. Jessica would beg Daniel (number 15) to return home, but he would remind her that her test was not over yet.
Jessica received a surprise call in the first week of February 2004 from Daniel telling her that her test was almost over, and that she could return home that weekend to watch her siblings over the next week, while he and her mother traveled to Las Vegas for a conference. That week sparked the series of events that lead to Jessica and her sister Andrea running away, opening the famous custody battle that began February 2004. Jessica never retrieved her money from her child labors.
JULIE then TUCKER
At six years old Julie started cutting grease rags for the Order's coal mine in Emery County. She would go to the general store, sort through all of the used clothing and take the pieces that were the right material to turn into grease rags. We would come home from school and cut a pile of clothing everyday. "We maxed our pay out at .25 cents per pound with this job."
At nine years old she began helping her mom clean the coal mine's shower house. She recalls scrubbing toilets, showers, and floors. "We would clean up so much coal dust that it was constantly in our sinuses."
At 11 years old she spent her summer in Salt Lake City to help her grandmother at the Order's department store called Family Stores-True Value located on 4860 S Redwood Rd, Taylorsville, UT. At Family Stores she stocked the floor, organized merchandise, cleaned, and worked as a cashier. "I was working 12-14 hour days. I was working at Family Stores when the new child labor laws went into place in the 90’s. I remember the manager coming in one day and telling us that it was illegal for us to work there so we could no longer clock in and out. I was previously being paid minimum wage: a little over $3/hour. After the child labor law was enacted, my pay went down and my hours increased because they no longer had to report my time and wage."
When school was in session, she was back to cleaning the shower house and also began filling and sealing water bags for the coal miners to drink while they were working. When she was 12 years old she was sent to Washakie Ranch to help move pipe and put irrigation pipe together for a couple of weeks in the summer. She worked from sun up to sun down and would come home with bloody hands every day.
"At 14 years old I was still doing all of the previous, minus cutting grease rags, but my responsibilities increased at Family Stores in the summers. I began marking merchandise and helping with ordering. The group made me a fake ID so that I could start going to Las Vegas to buy merchandise at the trade shows. You had to be 16 to get in, so they made me 16. I did this for a few years along with the others."
At about 16 years-old, she was transferred to Shoppers Western Wear to help the manager there. Her responsibilities consisted of cashier, stocker, merchandising, and pricing merchandise. She worked from open to close, 5-6 days a week. "When I was 16 I was given permission to miss 3 weeks of school and go to the groups potato farm in Idaho to harvest potatoes with a large group of kids. We worked from sun up to sun down every day. After a week or so of this, I would come in at the end of the day with knees swollen to three times the regular size. We’d eat dinner, have some type of group activity, usually something active like soccer or a dance on the weekend, and then go to bed, and repeat the next day."
At 17 years old, Julie was pulled out of school and began doing data entry for the coal mine. "They couldn’t keep me busy with the work so they began giving me engineering work. I was working on Auto CAD updating the maps for the coal mine and doing equations to build culverts. I was illegally signing documents with an Assistant Engineer title and was also going underground into the coal mine illegally doing surveying work."
When Julie turned 18, she left this job to move to SLC to work at Standard Restaurant Supply located at 3500 S W Temple SLC, UT. "Before this, I was told that my life path was to get an engineering degree and become my boss' 2nd wife. I declined and moved away as soon as I could." She worked at Standard for a short time after she left the Order. "When I left they asked me if I would continue to work for them. I told them I would if they gave me a raise, so they bumped me up to minimum wage, which I think was $6.50 at the time. It wasn’t enough to support myself so I eventually quit and began my journey with 'outside' employment."
"I can’t remember pay throughout the majority of my work experience. We were taught that pay was not important because we were building the Kingdom of God. When I was shorted hours or paid less than they told me, I figured the group needed the money more than I did… We were always told in Church that the group was in debt so that we would work harder, put in more hours, and give them more of our money."
LU ANN then KINGSTON
Lu Ann began working for the Kingston Co-op shoe store at the age of 5 years. Her duties consisted of organizing and sizing shoes, pricing merchandise, stocking and re-stocking merchandise, and janitorial work. Her pay began at .25 cents and she received a .05 cent pay raise each birthday. She worked at at the Co-op shoe store until 11 years old, when she made .55 cents an hour. In the Summer she would typically work a full 10 hour day but if they didn't have enough to do then sometimes she was allowed to leave in the afternoon and walk 1 1/2 miles home.
When Lu Ann was 11 years-old she was required to take every Friday off from her public school to go to the Ogden family store, where she cashiered and re-stocked the back room and front shopping area. She worked from open to close, 8am-7pm, every Friday and Saturday. At 12 years-old she transferred to working for the store in Dragerton, until the location went out of business later that same year. While working at the Dragerton location, Lu Ann drove her mother and herself (at 12 years old) to the location every Friday morning and back home Saturday evenings, working at least 10 hours each day. They spent Friday nights at an Order house in Dragerton to save money, then returned home late Saturday night for church the next day.
Near the end of 12 years old, Lu Ann got a "real job" at the Fidelity office entering checks, receipts, and service slips into the computer for the monthly statements. She took the city bus after school from Bountiful to the Fidelity offices located 3212 S State SLC, UT and had the responsibility to call around for a ride back home to Bountiful. Usually, the Order's lawyer Carl Kingston (#16 numbered man in the order), who had an office in the same building sometimes gave the "Bountiful kids" a ride home. She remembers getting home as early as 7pm or as late as 10pm, having dinner, then going to bed repeat the next day. School work was not important, and Lu Ann could not complete her school assignments until after work.
At 14 years-old Lu Ann was moved to the Mountain Coin office, which was on a lower floor in the Fidelity building. She still took the bus to work every day after school, but she felt very blessed to be one of the lucky few allowed to continue going to public school at this age. Her responsibilities working in this office consisted of data entry, filing, and other secretarial work. She also came in on Saturdays to help upstairs at her old job with their monthly statements.
At 15 years-old, the summer after 9th grade, Lu Ann was married as the 4th wife and was told to work at AAA Communications, which was the answering service in the basement of the Dixon building located on 159 W 300 S SLC, UT. She got a raise after the wedding because she would soon have a family of her own to care for; she now made $6 an hour. Lu Ann was required to work 2-3 weeks of night shift each month, alone; she was the only person in the entire building throughout the night, that she knew of. Each shift was 10-12 hours long unless someone else asked her to cover part or all of the next shift then she would stay and work even longer.
At the age of 16 she moved into her own apartment on Wilson Avenue, and started dispatching for A-1 disposal, while continuing to work for AAA Communications in the Dixon building. She was still required to work 10-12 hour or longer shifts, and continued to work night shifts at least 1-2 weeks a month.
At 17 years-old, Lu Ann was moved back to the Fidelity building working for Property Management. Her responsibilities consisted of A/P, then A/R and eventually both. She was still making $6 an hour now working 9am-5pm with the occasional late night and weekends for project deadlines. She received a .25 cent raise after she had her first daughter.
After she had her second daughter at age 19, she was told to work for her "spiritual husband" Jeremy Kingston (#68 numbered man in the Order) at his company Advanced Vending. She was the secretary in charge of answering phones, data entry and sometimes payroll. Her job required her to step out into the warehouse and talk to the company drivers who were also members of the Kingston family. However, if Jeremy felt she was talking to them too often he would yell at her and then give her the silent treatment for a few days making it difficult for her to do her job.
She left at the age of 20 years-old with her two daughters.
We know we are not the only ones who labored our childhood to help build up this polygamous group! We also know that many children in other polygamous groups have similar experiences and stories to share, and some children even worked night shift last night. So we invite you below in the comments to share your childhood work history in polygamy.