7/20/09 – Witness misidentifies Alamo in sex-abuse trial

July 20, 2009
JON GAMBRELL Associated Press Writer

Woman Incorrectly IDs Pastor At Sex-crimes Trial


A woman whose sister was allegedly an underage bride of evangelist Tony Alamo misidentified the preacher at his sex-crimes trial Monday and gave jurors a different account of how her sister came to “marry” him.

When a prosecutor offered the witness a second chance to identify Alamo as the leader of an Arkansas religious compound, the woman stood up and correctly pointed out the 74-year-old.

Alamo is charged in a 10-count indictment alleging that he took five young girls across state lines for sex. He has pleaded not guilty and says he is the target of a Vatican-led conspiracy. Defense lawyers say prosecutors targeted Alamo for his religious beliefs.

Monday’s witness, 20, spoke slowly during her time on the stand and often appeared confused. Prosecutors had summoned her to verify details that her 17-year-old sister gave in testimony Friday, including that Alamo said the Lord had told him to choose a wife from between the siblings.

The 20-year-old woman, a former Alamo follower, told jurors that several people were present when the preacher picked her then-11-year-old sister as a “wife,” but the previous witness had told jurors only three people were there.

Alamo’s defense team hammered on the difference.

The mother of the two witnesses told jurors she had no problems with the girls going to Alamo’s home, calling him “a holy man of God” who had been blessed by “the blood of the Lord.”

Prosecutors also summoned the sister of a woman who still lives in the compound. The woman, 19, said her sister moved into Alamo’s home at age 12 and later became one of his wives. She said she often heard Alamo refer to several woman as wives and saw them massaging Alamo’s thighs, giggling and whispering in his ears.

She also said she helped prepare Alamo’s tour bus for a November 2004 trip. The 17-year-old who testified Friday said she had sex with Alamo on the bus while she was underage.

Jurors heard from all five alleged victims last week. In graphic testimony, they said that they traveled to California, Tennessee and West Virginia for sex with their pastor or responded to his call and returned to Arkansas from out of state and had sex with him. Alamo’s defense lawyers claim the girls were doing ministry work.

Each count in the indictment is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Alamo was convicted of tax evasion in 1994 and served four years in federal prison. Among the allegations is that he had sex with an underage girl while in Tennessee for the tax trial.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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