5/03/09 – Alamo followers refuse to say where children are

Pine Bluff Commercial
May 3, 2009
Associated Press

Alamo followers refuse to say where children are

TEXARKANA, Ark. – Two followers of jailed evangelist Tony Alamo remain in jail themselves after again refusing to tell an Arkansas judge where their children are.

Both parents, a man and a woman from different families, were jailed in January for refusing to tell Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin where their other children were. Griffin, who held hearings for four families Thursday, previously said the parents would not be freed until they “purge” their contempt.

Since a September raid on the church’s compound in Fouke, state officials have seized 36 children associated with the ministry. Officials believe nearly 100 more remain hidden by church families as Alamo faces federal charges of taking young girls across state lines for sex.

“The children (already seized) will remain where they are, in the state’s custody,” Griffin told the Texarkana Gazette after the hearings Thursday. “The parents will continue to work the case plans as ordered by the court.”

If the parents want their children returned, they must participate in counseling and other programs. Griffin and fellow Circuit Judge Jim Hudson also have ordered parents to sever their economic, employment and residential ties with the church to get their children back.

The Alamo ministry has filed a federal lawsuit against state child welfare officials, alleging the state is violating parents’ constitutional rights by seizing the children solely because of their parents’ ties to the church. The church is asking U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes to issue an injunction stopping the state from seizing more children and wants the children already in state custody returned to their parents.

However, Griffin says both judges have said followers could attend church services as long as the other conditions are met.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with them going to church,” the judge said.

Alamo, 74, faces a May 18 federal trial in Texarkana. He remains held without bond.

Information from: Texarkana Gazette,

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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