Ex-wife claims that Tony Alamo took away her childhood

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Southwest Times Record
June 21, 1996

Ex-wife: Alamo took away childhood

When she was 6, Jody moved to Alma from Connecticut with her mom, step dad and sister, and became a part of Tony Alamo’s Holy Alamo Christian Church.

The family soon moved into the Alamo compound on Georgia Ridge in Dyer, where Jody gave her heart to God and her life to Tony Alamo.

In return, Jody says, Tony Alamo took away her childhood at the age of 10 by putting her to work eight hours or more a day in the church’s denim jacket business.

And when she was 17, he took her virginity after making her one of the three “wives” he had at the time.

After nearly a year of being “married” to Jody (in a ceremony consisting of Tony mumbling a prayer and asking, “Do you marry me?” and her replying, “I do,” in front of two church members in a California hotel room) Alamo “divorced” her. Jody has since left the church, testified against Tony in a federal income tax case and struggled to cope with life outside the church and Tony Alamo,

Jody, now 20, says even though she’s out of the church, not an hour of each day goes by that she doesn’t worry about those still controlled by Alamo from his cell in a Texarkana, Texas, federal prison, where he is serving a six-year sentence.

Tony’s so into The Old Testament now, he believes it’s alright for him to have as many wives as he wants,” she says. “And before I left him, he was talking about having people in the church stoned for committing adultery and things and even sacrificing animals in worship.”

Jody’s testimony in a 1994 tax case against Alamo, which was supported by documents she had quietly accumulated, proving Alamo lived lavishly on unreported income, helped the IRS put Alamo behind bars. He was convicted of understating his income and failing to file tax returns on unreported church income of about $9 million from 1985-88.

Before the conviction, Alamo had faced various other state and federal criminal charges, including a 1991 charge of threatening to kidnap U.S. District Judge Morris Arnold of Fort Smith. (Jody says she was among many other followers who listened to Tony’s taped message describing how he was going to “judge the judge and hang him.”)

Following her testimony against Alamo in the tax case, a scathing personal condemnation of her was printed in a Holy Alamo Christian Church leaflet plastered in public places all over the country by Alamo followers.

The pamphlet, “Lying for Fun and Profit,” included about a dozen “affidavits” signed by Alamo followers including Jody’s stepfather and half-brother. The affidavits accuse Jody of being a rebellious troublemaker and habitual liar.

But the affidavit statements are lies, Jody says. She says if Alamo followers are taught that if they hear anyone criticize him and don’t come to his defense, all the curses in the Bible will befall them. They also believe Tony is infallible and his authority over them is absolute.

“He uses the Bible to bring people in to be saved but uses their gratitude for salvation to make them feel they have to stay in his church,” she says. “I found out that living with Tony and living in the church as a ‘no one’ is totally different.”

Jody says she believed it was wrong to marry Tony, knowing he had other wives, but could not refuse him. But she said she put off consummation of the marriage until it was forced on her, because she was repulsed by the thought of sexual relations with Alamo. After that she said she contin¬ued to submit but was “like a corpse” to his advances, which he griped about.

While living as Alamo’s wife, she got to dine with him at swanky restaurants, watch him become drunk on $200-a-bottle wine at a Beverly Hills Country Club and wear expensive clothes, Jody said. She still has, but doesn’t wear, wedding rings he bought her.

But she felt guilty living so well while most other Alamo followers existed in near poverty conditions while working long hours in the church’s production of high-priced, hand-painted and decorated denim jackets.

Jody says Alamo still has a loyal follow¬ing across the country. He directs his flock and witness teams through messages and sermons he tapes from his prison cell, and orders the printing of his notorious church pamphlets in Fort Smith and Fayetteville,

After federal officers seized Alamo’s Georgia Ridge property in 1991, his followers there scattered to find other homes, Jody ended up at Alamo church operations in California.

There she was chosen by Alamo to work in the church office, where one of her duties was to look up scriptures to support the doctrines he dictates to followers— like his right, “as a prophet,” to take more than one wife.

Daring to debate scriptures with Tony and disagree with him eventually got Jody “divorced” from her pastor/husband, she says.

“There is nothing, she says, Alamo’s followers won’t do for him.”

“They’re giving their daughters to him, they’d even die for him,” the pretty young ex-Alamo “wife” told me. “At one time I would have, too. Since Susan (Alamo) died (in 1981), he can do anything he wants in the church. There doesn’t seem to be anyone or anything that can stop him.”

Times Record columnist Linda Seubold is a four-time recipient of the Distinguished Service to Journalism Award from, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

In: 1990-1999, Eye Witness & First Hand Accounts of Abuse

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