7/15/09 – AP: Photos offer look at child ‘wives’ of Tony Alamo

Charleston Daily Mail
July 15, 2009

Photos offer look at child ‘wives’ of evangelist


The pictures could be the keepsakes from any family’s photo album: dated snapshots of a birthday party 15 years ago, a smiling 8-year-old girl at a turkey dinner, a teenager posed in front of an ornamental star.

“Who is the girl on the right wearing the Barbie shirt?” a prosecutor asked as another image flashed up.

The witness answered: It was the 8-year-old that evangelist Tony Alamo had taken “as his wife.”

Prosecutors used those photographs Wednesday as a woman who said she was one of Alamo’s child brides testified in his trial on charges that he took underage girls across state lines for sex.

The woman, now 30 and living in Florida, said she was a third-generation Alamo follower into adulthood – until the Arkansas-based pastor “married” the 8-year-old. At one point, the woman said, she objected when Alamo graphically described how he fondled the girl as she held a stuffed animal.

“He told me to shut up and that I shouldn’t question what ‘the Lord told me to do,'” the woman said.

Federal prosecutors accuse Alamo, 74, of transporting five girls across state lines for sex with him between 1994 and 2005. The woman who testified Wednesday said she traveled to Tennessee, West Virginia and toward California when she was underage to be available to Alamo. The California trip abruptly ended before they arrived, she said.

Alamo’s lawyers suggested that she agreed to testify because the Justice Department paid for two weeks of counseling at a mental health center that caters to former cult members.

“There wasn’t anything done that helped create in your mind an image of Mr. Alamo as a demon?” chief defense lawyer Don Ervin asked.

“I didn’t need help with anything like that,” the woman replied.

During a bench conference among lawyers, Alamo grabbed a book of photos from the defense table and looked at the pictures.

Defense lawyers say the government has targeted the ministry, and Alamo says the trial is part of a Vatican-led conspiracy against him. But lawyers offered no challenge to witness claims Wednesday that Alamo married and had sex with the underage girls, something he said was a commandment from the Lord.

The Florida woman testified that Alamo had so many partners that he had to schedule when he would have sex with them. How often varied by where he was and how many were with him when he was traveling, she said. Prosecutors allege that some girls were brought to him for sex while he was awaiting a 1994 trial on a tax evasion charge.

When Alamo was arrested in Arizona last September to face the sex-crime charges, federal agents said he had several women traveling with him, none of whom were minors.

The woman said children at the compound were taught an Alamo-approved curriculum and that they were separated by gender by the time she reached the fifth grade.

“He said he didn’t want, as he put it, any hanky-panky between boys and girls,” the woman said.

In her earlier testimony, the woman said she felt forced to become one of Alamo’s brides at age 15 after he rejected a request from a boy the same age to marry her. Alamo said the Lord had told him to take her as his wife, and that she feared she and her family would be shunned if she did not submit, she testified.

“We didn’t have anywhere to go,” said the woman, whose parents and grandparents were also Alamo followers.

The “marriage” took place at Alamo’s compound but was not formally registered with the state. Three days after the impromptu ceremony, Alamo had sex with her for the first time, she said. The Associated Press generally does not identify alleged victims of sex crimes.

The woman’s mother also testified Wednesday, largely confirming her daughter’s account.

The woman acknowledged that she once wrote a letter saying life was fine inside Alamo’s compound, but said he made her do so when he discovered others had posted statements critical of his ministry on the Internet. Alamo’s followers regularly send letters to the media when allegations are raised against him.

The witness also testified that she left the compound briefly in 2005, but returned after failing to adjust to life on the outside. She said she left for good in 2006 and contacted prosecutors after state and federal agents raided Alamo’s compound near Fouke in southwestern Arkansas last Sept. 20. The government revised its indictment against Alamo to include some of her allegations.

If convicted, Alamo faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. He is being held without bond.

In: 2009 - (Trial year), Victim's Testimonies

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  1. A LeBaron Says:

    Here we have another man claiming special communion with the Lord using this as a method to dominate and degrade females — and dupe othr men into becoming his minions.
    We have it in the Fundamentalist offshoot Mormon groups and we have it in the religiously run countries where polygamy and male dominance is a way of life. It’s all about God saying polygamy is a good thing for a man. It is a state which degrades both sexes. People involved in such rites no longer emulate intellectual achievements but turn to domination and physical gratification. This is a sick state of being.

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