7/17/09 – NWA: Women say they married Alamo at young ages

NWA News
July 17, 2009

Women say they married Alama


Four more women testified Thursday that they were married to evangelist Tony Alamo at young ages, including one who said she was 14 when Alamo exchanged vows with her while he was incarcerated in federal prison and another who said she was 9 when Alamo began having sex with her regularly.

That woman also said that, before her 10th birthday, Alamo took pictures of her with a Polaroid camera, then used a machine to enlarge them so that he could see them better. Alamo has said he has glaucoma and is legally blind.

“He had told me that, to him, I look like a German whore,” the woman, now 18, testified. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, “Well, that’s a good thing.'”

The testimony came on the fourth day of Alamo’s trial on charges that he transported five underage girls, all who say they were his wives at the time, across state lines for sex from March 1994 through October 2005. Alamo’s attorneys argue that the trips were for church business, not for sex.

One of the accusers is expected to continue testifying today, along with a woman who says she married Alamo at age 11.

The women who testified Thursday include one who says she married Alamo at age 8, two who said they were 14 and one who says she was 17. The one who was 17 is not named as a victim in the indictment, but her testimony was offered to corroborate the testimony of the other women.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette generally does not name alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Wearing dark glasses because of his poor eyesight, Alamo, 74, sipped from a paper coffee cup Thursday and occasionally smiled as he listened to the sometimes graphic testimony from his accusers. At one point, he complained, along with one of his attorneys, that he was having trouble hearing the testimony of one of the women.

The women, meanwhile, occasionally paused during their testimony to regain their composure. After the 18-year-old began choking up while describing how Alamo fondled her for the first time, U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes called a 10-minute recess.

The women said they lived together, along with several adult wives, at Alamo’s home at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Fouke. While the adult wives answered phones in Alamo’s office and helped him prepare religious tracts, the younger ones mainly looked after his two sons and his stepson, performed household chores, and rubbed his arms, legs and back until he fell asleep every night, the accusers said.

The women said they were given rings but were not allowed to wear them in public. If they were asked whether they were married to Alamo, they were told to lie, they said. The 18-yearold, who was 8 when she married Alamo, said she was forbidden to tell even her parents.

“I was told that if I did, I would be beaten and I would be put on fasts, and I would go to hell for speaking against a man of God,” she testified. She said she finally escaped in 2006, after slipping out of the house, crawling under some bushes and making her way to the Dollar General Store in Fouke.

Another woman, now 33, testified that when Alamo brought a 15-year-old into the house in 1994, her age “was a joke in the house.”

An accuser who is now 20 said she reluctantly moved into Alamo’s house in Fouke at age 14, while he was incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, on a tax-evasion conviction. In a prison visiting room, Alamo’s wives would crowd around him, blocking the view of guards and security cameras, while Alamo fondled her breasts and genitals, the woman said. During one of the visits, Alamo recited vows and told her they were married, the woman said.

She said Alamo forced her to have sex on July 17, 1998, a day she wrote down in her Bible. She was 14 at the time and Alamo was completing his sentence at a federal halfway house in Texarkana. He was allowed to go to his Fouke compound during the day but returned to the halfway house at night.

“I was pushing him off, telling him, ‘You’re hurting me,'” the woman testified. After that, he began having sex with her about once a month, she said.

The 18-year-old who said she was 8 when Alamo brought her into his room, put her on his bed and began fondling her breasts and genitalia. When she was 9, Alamo began having sex with her as often as once a week, she said.

“He would tell us to rub his shoulders or his feet, and then he would tell us ‘Let’s go in my room,’ and we all knew what that meant,” the 18-year-old testified.

Before one sexual encounter the woman said she asked Alamo why he had chosen her as a wife. Alamo had told his other wives that their marriages’ were “God’s will,” the woman testified, but his answer to her was different.

“He said ‘Because you were cute,'” the woman said.

In: 2009 - (Trial year), Eye Witness & First Hand Accounts of Abuse, Former Member's Testimonies, Victim's Testimonies

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