A white male who grew up in an incestuous, polygamist, Mormon cult with 14 mothers and 163 siblings has opened up about the horrors that he was subjected to by its abusive leader.
Val Snow, 35, grew up in Utah in a strict Mormon community called the Kingston Group – officially known as the Davis County Cooperative Society and internally as The Order.
Val is the oldest of 12 children that his mother gave birth to in the cult, and has over 150 half-siblings.
In the podcast Cults to Consciousness, Val opened up about the physical and sexual abuse he faced at the hands of his father, John Daniel Kingston, while living in the Kingston Group.
As his mother was in a polyamorous relationship, Val admitted he didn’t even know that John Daniel Kingston – whom he calls Daniel – was his biological dad was until his sister figured it out.
‘Personally I didn’t really see him very often,’ Val told Shelise Ann Sola in the episode. ‘He would come by twice a month unless he was mad at my mom, then he would come by once a month.’
He added he and his father, ‘didn’t really hang out a lot,’ and when they did he was ‘being punished or abused.’
‘[Daniel’s] way of raising kids was to first establish fear, and then with fear comes respect and with respect comes love, [that] is his philosophy,’ Val explained.
He also expressed he has a lot of respect for his mother, who is Daniel’s seventh wife, quipping: ‘[I] love that girl.’
‘A lot of my experiences of my father [are] my mom rescuing me from him,’ he admitted.
Daniel was sentenced to prison in 1999, after forcing his then 16-year-old daughter to marry his brother, and then beating her with a belt when she escaped the polygamist marriage.
In this podcast, which as per the description discusses leaving ‘high demand religions or organizations’ and finding ‘healing and independence, through awareness and true individual sovereignty,’ Val explained Daniel would basically only visit his wives to impregnate them.
He added that as polygamy is illegal, the children were given a fake name on their birth certificate for the father, unless the mother was a wife in the eyes of the government.
He explained the women that were married to Daniel operated as single parents; often having to rely on dumpster diving and food stamps to feed their enormous families.
‘I actually got pulled out of school at 14,’ he explained to Shelise. ‘[The church] said that what God wanted me to do was to go get a full-time job and support the younger kids.’
Val also had to pay ‘child support’ – which was a ruse to send money straight to the church – and relied on dumpster diving to help his mom to support nine children.
He revealed he got his first job at age eight, working at a True Value store which was owned by The Order, working for ‘probably 10 cents an hour.’
‘I would just go in the back and label new items and new shipments that came in,’ he explained. ‘There were many summers I worked for free the entire summer.’
Although the Kingston Group wasn’t in a compound and lived individually as families, they were still very much separated from society and only really interacted with each other.
‘You don’t get too close; you can’t be friends with them,’ he explained.
He then briefly explained the banking system, with everything that is earned going to The Order’s bank, and every member only seeing an account balance monthly.
‘The Order teaches you that the outside world is very scary and the reason that they’re hiding your money is because if the government know you have it, they’re gonna come and take it,’ Val explained.
Val also recalled the times Daniel would beat him, adding that he had physically abused him in his office as a kid – even though he had his ankle monitor on from prison, while he was out of on ‘work release.’
‘Beyond the physical abuse there was sexual abuse from my father,’ Val added. ‘And the crazy part was I don’t know to this day that he was actually finding pleasure in the sexual side of it. He enjoys seeing someone in pain.’
Val described working on a cattle ranch as a kid, and an incident that took place when his father decided to teach him how to drive when he was 14.
‘Whenever he’s nice, that’s when you know you’re in trouble or something bad is gonna happen,’ he said.
‘We went on a truck drive and he was going to teach me how to drive a truck, and it ended up being where I got molested and then beat afterwards,’ he somberly recalled.
‘Then he leaves me in the field to just finish moving the water lines at the farm,’ he continued, adding he had ‘no idea’ what had happened.
‘There’s never been any kind of sex education,’ he pointed out.
He said luckily his mother noticed that he was extremely resistant about going to the ranch after that, and didn’t force him to return.
‘She got some backlash for that,’ he remembered. ‘Daniel didn’t appreciate the way that she wouldn’t just make us do whatever he would tell us to do.’
He noted that when their moms weren’t around, Daniel would beat the kids until they were bleeding and crying.
Val, who is homosexual, also spoke about his experience of coming to terms with his homosexuality as someone who grew up in the Mormon church.
‘I knew I wasn’t attracted to women I just thought that that attraction would come with marriage,’ he admitted. ‘[I thought] I would just get a become attracted because I’m supposed to be and God would help me.’
Val said when his father found out he was homosexual, he kicked him out of the family and church, after urging him to undergo conversion therapy.
The young man, who changed his name from Gerald when he left The Order, parted ways with the cult in 2011.
He recalls making two online dating profiles when he was first exploring life outside The Order – one for dating men and one for dating women – before deciding to just date men.
Val now has a YouTube channel where he has shared his story, and promotes self-love and creativity.
His younger sister Shanell also left the Kingston Group after being forced to marry her first cousin at 18.
She went on to star on the Lifetime reality series Escaping Polygamy alongside half sisters Andrea Brewer and Jessica Christensen.