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SANDY - Four children removed from a Kingston family member's home will stay with their grandmother while their mother receives counseling, plus homemaking and parenting help.

Third District Juvenile Court Judge C. Dane Nolan on Tuesday approved a seven-page plan to help Ardous Finley, 19, improve her ability to care for her children and possibly allow her to be reunited with them. The children are ages 3, 2, 16 months and an infant.

Finley is a spiritual wife of Joshua Paul Kingston, 25, oldest son of Kingston clan leader Paul Kingston.

Joshua Kingston has an estimated 10 to 13 wives, at least one of whom is his half sister; that woman's parents, Paul Kingston and Deborah Williams, also are half siblings, according to Rowenna Erickson.

"This [Ardous Finley] is a classic case of what happens to these polygamist girls - the sadness because of the lack of education and nurturing in their homes," said Erickson, who left the Kingston clan in 1992 and is an activist against polygamy.

Child welfare workers were called to Finley's home on April 25 after a neighbor reported to police that the children were home alone and a toddler was crawling in the street.

Police and a social worker described the home as "atrocious." Dirty diapers, feces and rotten food were strewn throughout; rats ran freely in the back yard.

The children were removed that night and taken to the Christmas Box House. A nurse who examined them said the two youngest boys were malnourished, according to a transcript of an April 27 court hearing.

The nurse described the 16-month-old boy's legs as "broomsticks" and said he was unable to walk, according to a child welfare caseworker. The boy weighed just 16 pounds.

The baby had difficulty sucking and wouldn't follow movements or make eye contact. He also was not used to being held, the caseworker said.

Molly McDonald, of the Attorney General's Office, initially objected to placing the children with their grandmother, Ruth Finley, because of her failure to protect them in the past.

Added Jim Michie, a guardian ad litem, at the April 27 hearing, "We are also concerned that no one in this family seems to know who the father of these children is, including Ruth."

Ruth Finley, 53, told the judge she had visited her daughter's home only occasionally and had in the past tried to help Ardous keep it clean. She skirted questions about her grandchildren's father. As Nolan pressed her for the information, Ruth Finley said, "I know that she [Ardous] in her past, I'm not all, uh, I know that she wanted to have kids, and I know that she is not married."

"So you're saying you don't know who the father is?" Nolan asked.

"I try not to get into her or my other children's personal business," Ruth Finley said, who subsequently said she hadn't "actually heard them call anyone daddy."

Ruth Finley said the children called Joshua Paul Kingston "Uncle Joshua," and she identified him as her nephew.

At the April hearing, Nolan allowed Ruth Finley to take custody of the children. He also ordered the Division of Child and Family Services to conduct paternity tests to determine who the children's father is. However, Joshua Kingston later acknowledged paternity.

Ardous Finley and Joshua Kingston were in court on Tuesday, though they had separate attorneys. Finley's attorney is Mark Hansen, who also represents Heidi Foster, wife of John Daniel Kingston, in a child abuse and neglect case. Joshua Kingston was represented by a brother, David Kingston.

Nolan ordered that Ardous Finley's children stay with their grandmother for now, but granted the teen liberal visitation with them. He also ordered that Ardous Finley undergo a psychosocial evaluation. And he gave Joshua Kingston a day to provide information needed to get the children medical care.