7/17/09 – Witness: Alamo said I had the body of a six-year-old and he was attracted to that

Times-Standard (California)
July 17, 2009

Woman says she feared Alamo would hurt her sister

A woman who said evangelist Tony Alamo had sexually abused her since she was 8 acknowledged to jurors Friday that she hates him, but said the reason she agreed to testify was because she is afraid he will molest her little sister.

Under cross-examination in Alamo’s sex-crimes trial, the 18-year-old woman also said that FBI agents had given her some gifts and paid her cell phone bill before she appeared in court as a witness.

The woman, who testified that Alamo “married” her when she was 8 and that he started having sex with her a year later, acknowledged Friday that she hated Alamo and wanted him convicted.

“You want your revenge, don’t you?” asked defense lawyer Phillip Kuhn.

“No, I just don’t want him to hurt anybody else,” the woman said, beginning to cry. “I don’t want him to touch my little sister. She’s only 12.”

She said she contacted the FBI after hearing from others that her younger sister’s voice might be on an audiotape distributed to Alamo’s followers.

“He hurt me a lot and I would hate to see my sister or anybody else go through that again,” she said.

Alamo, 74, is accused of taking underage girls across state lines for sex. Prosecutors are expected to present their final witnesses Monday and turn the trial over to the evangelist’s defense team.

The evangelist has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers claim the government has targeted him because of his religious beliefs. Alamo, who has said the Vatican is behind his troubles, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

A series of women have testified that Alamo “married” them while they were underage and that he either raped them or sexually assaulted them. The Associated Press generally does not identify those who say they were victims of sex crimes.

On Friday, a 17-year-old girl told jurors Alamo invited her and her sister to his home at the Arkansas compound when she was as young as 8. By 9, she said she visited regularly. By 11, she said Alamo “married” her in his bedroom and immediately began sexually assaulting her.

“He said things like I looked very innocent to him,” the girl said, her face and voice betraying no emotion. “And he said I had the body of a 6-year-old and he was attracted to” that.

The 17-year-old girl said she traveled with Alamo and a group of others to the ministry’s compound near Los Angeles. She described him taking her into his back bedroom on his tour bus, locking the door and having sex with her as the sounds of the road and others on the bus masked the noise.

She left the ministry once with her mother, but returned at Alamo’s urging to his California compound. The sex continued, but the girl said she began looking for ways to avoid him.

“I was terrified of Tony,” she said. “I didn’t want to spend time with him.”

Alamo fell asleep twice during the girl’s testimony. Kuhn prodded Alamo awake the second time.

The defense team has largely avoid direct confrontations with the witnesses, choosing instead to question their memories and whether their stories were rehearsed.

While cross-examining the woman who had been the 8-year-old “bride,” Kuhn asked why, if Alamo had taken explicit photos of the girl around the time of their marriage—as she testified a day earlier—no child pornography was found during last year’s raid on Alamo’s compound.

The woman said Alamo was “paranoid” and often sliced up such pictures into tiny pieces.

“We had to vacuum the floor for all the little pieces he missed,” she said.

She also said that FBI agents and prosecutors had given her gifts since she stepped forward: an $80 Wal-Mart gift card, balloons and flowers on her birthday and a Valentine’s Day-themed blanket when she was having a rough time. The FBI also provided her with a cell phone so they could keep in touch with her.

She also acknowledged that she was in a counseling center that caters to former cult members at the same time as two other prosecution witnesses. She also said the group had dinner with FBI agents recently but were told not to discuss their stories.

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


In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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