7/16/09 – NWA: Witness: Alamo described sex abuse

NWA News
July 16, 2009

Witness: Alamo described sex abuse


Even after being pressured to become one of evangelist Tony Alamo’s wives when she was just 15, and then put on a schedule to have sex with him once a week, a woman testified Wednesday that she was horrified when Alamo came out of his bedroom one day and made an announcement about the latest object of his affection.

While two of his wives listened, Alamo described in graphic detail how he had just laid beside an 8-year-old girl, the niece of one of his other wives, and fondled her while she held a stuffed animal, the accuser and former wife, now 30, testified. She said Alamo told them he planned to take the 8-year-old as a wife.

“At that point my jaw dropped so far down I had to remind myself to close my mouth,” the woman testified.

The woman, who is not being named because she is alleged to be a victim of sexual abuse, was the first witness to testify in Alamo’s trial on charges that he transported her and four others across state lines for sex while they were younger than 18. The charges relating to the 30-year-old woman refer to three trips she made with Alamo or his subordinates in 1994, when she was 15. Alamo’s attorneys argue that he took the girls across state lines to conduct church business, not to have sex.

Wearing a dark suit jacket and white blouse, with straight brown hair falling below her shoulders, the woman testified Wednesday that she lived at Alamo’s house with several other wives, including five younger than 18. The wives helped Alamo prepare his recorded sermons and religious tracts, took turns spending the night with him and gave him massages, sometimes using “massage machines,” the woman testified.

The wives were not allowed to leave Alamo’s house without permission, and they were punished for supposed misdeeds by being beaten or forced to fast, the woman testified. At one point, she said, Alamo pressured her into say- ing she had had sex with her own father and another of Alamo’s wives.

She finally left in 2006, after calling her mother on a cell phone that had been sewn into a jacket and smuggled into the church compound at Fouke.

Two years later, after moving to Florida, the woman met an FBI agent at a restaurant and told her story. Asked by assistant U.S. attorney Kyra Jenner why it took so long to step forward, the woman said, “There were things that were very, very traumatic and I didn’t want to remember them. I wanted to start a new life.”

Because of a trial ruling restricting testimony about Alamo’s relationships with adult women, adult wives were referred to simply as “residents” of Alamo’s home.

Under questioning from Alamo’s attorney, Don Ervin of Houston, the woman acknowledged that Alamo provided her and other church members with food, clothing and medical care. She also admitted writing a letter, the contents of which were posted on an Internet discussion board, in which she said she was “happily serving the Lord” and was “in no way forced into anything.”

The woman said she was forced by Alamo to write the letter and would have been beaten or forced to fast if she hadn’t.

The woman was born into the church, the third generation of her family to be a member. Her mother, who has left the church and who also testified Wednesday, had been 12 when her own mother joined in California in the 1970s.

In February 1994, Alamo called the accuser, then 15, and her parents to his house on Meadow Lane in Fort Smith, the mother testified. As the three sat on the couch in Alamo’s living room, Alamo told them that a boy, whom the girl liked, had called him and asked if he could marry the girl. But Alamo, then 59, told them that God wanted the girl to marry Alamo instead, the mother testified.

“I just started thinking, ‘No, this is insane,'” the mother testified. But mother and daughter said they knew that saying no would mean the family would be kicked out of the ministry.

“He said didn’t I want to do what the Lord wanted me to do?” the daughter testified. “So I said yes.”

She said Alamo then walked over to the couch and took her right hand.

“He said, ‘Will you take me to be your lawfully wedded husband?'” the woman testified. “I said yes, and he said, ‘And I’ll take you to be my lawfully wedded wife,’ and he gave me a kiss on the forehead.”

The woman said she moved into the ranch-style house with Alamo and other wives, and within days Alamo began having sex with her. She lived at the house until September 1994, when Alamo was sent to prison for tax evasion. After his release in 1998, she and the other wives moved into the house in Fouke.

When Alamo made the announcement about the 8-year-old girl, who is also an alleged victim in the case and is expected to testify, the woman said she pointed out that Alamo had preached that girls must begin menstruating before they can be married. She also noted that Alamo was married to the girl’s aunt.

“He told me to shut up, and that I shouldn’t question what the Lord tells him to do,” the woman testified. She said Alamo said he would just divorce the girl’s aunt.

“I questioned that – how could you be divorcing [the aunt] when just a couple days earlier, she was in your bedroom?” the woman testified. “He just told me to shut up.”

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

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