7/01/09 – NWA: Alamo ministry gets 45 days to show ‘bad faith’ by agency

NWA News
July 1, 2009
By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Alamo-case judge refuses to drop suit

A judge Tuesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Arkansas child-welfare officials infringed on the religious freedoms of members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes gave attorneys for the ministry 45 days to gather information on whether officials with the Arkansas Department of Human Services acted in “bad faith” in removing children from the ministry.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the ministry by a group known as CPS Watch Legal Team in April, contends that the removal of 36 children from the ministry is part of a campaign of harassment against the church. The suit seeks an order barring any more removals.

The Human Services Department says ministry children are endangered by practices that include allowing underage marriages and beatings for violations of church rules. Tony Alamo, the ministry’s 74-year-old leader, is awaiting trial on charges that he transported five underage girls across state lines for sex from March 1994 through October 2005.

Contending that the ministry is merely trying to circumvent child-welfare proceedings in Miller County Circuit Court, the Human Services Department asked Barnes to dismiss the lawsuit.

Barnes on Tuesday declined to rule on the request. Instead, he gave the ministry’s attorneys 45 more days to gather information and submit it to the court. The department will then have five days to respond before Barnes rules on whether the suit should be dismissed.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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