7/13/09 – AP: Judge: Prosecutors can’t discuss ‘polygamy’ at trial of jailed Tony Alamo

Newsday (New York)
July 13, 2009
By Associated Press

Judge: Prosecutors can’t discuss ‘polygamy’ at trial of jailed evangelist Tony Alamo

Prosecutors won’t be able to mention polygamy at the trial of jailed evangelist Tony Alamo, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes made the decision after weeding out about 100 prospective jurors from across western Arkansas for the two-week trial. A pool of 109 potential jurors will return Tuesday to the federal courthouse in Texarkana to answer questions from prosecutors and Alamo’s defense team, hoping to come up with a jury by the end of the day.

Court officials expect opening arguments in Alamo’s trial by Wednesday. He has pleaded not guilty to a 10-count indictment accusing him of taking young girls across state lines for sex.

After dismissing potential jurors, Barnes again heard arguments over a slew of motions filed by Alamo’s defense team. He rejected the majority of them, but allowed defense requests to stop prosecutors from using the word polygamy. Alamo is accused of marrying multiple women in his ministry. Prosecutors say Alamo’s alleged victims received wedding rings and exchanged vows with the 74-year-old.

Barnes granted defense requests to stop prosecutors from discussing Alamo’s belief that the Bible allows women to be married as soon as they reach puberty. Alamo previously has said he believes “consent is puberty.” The judge also granted a request to stop prosecutors from talking about Alamo’s sexual relationship with women over the age of consent.

FBI agents and Arkansas State Police troopers raided Alamo’s 15-acre complex in Fouke on Sept. 20, searching for evidence of child pornography. Agents arrested the evangelist five days later in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Since establishing the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in Arkansas, Alamo has been a controversial and flamboyant figure. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, describes the ministry as a cult that rails against homosexuals, Roman Catholics and the government.

Alamo is said to have ministries and business operations in a number of states, including Colorado, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Alamo remains held without bond.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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