8/11/09 – ADG: Alamo group granted extension in lawsuit against Arkansas Department of Human Services

Arkansas Democrat Gazette
August 11, 2009

Arkansas ministry granted extension

Prosecutors on Monday asked for more time to respond to a request by evangelist Tony Alamo for a new trial on charges that he transported five underage girls across state lines for sex.

Meanwhile, in a separate case involving Alamo’s ministry, U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes granted the ministry more time to gather information for its lawsuit claiming that the Arkansas Department of Human Services has infringed on the religious freedoms of ministry members.

Alamo, 74, was convicted last month of 10 counts of transporting girls across state lines in violation of the federal Mann Act. In their motion for a new trial, Alamo’s attorneys argued that the evidence wasinsufficient to convict him and that Barnes made several errors, including allowing testimony about Alamo’s relationships with adult women and allowing two witnesses to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incriminating testimony in front of the jury.

Prosecutors’ response to the request was due Monday, but assistant U.S. attorney Kyra Jenner said in a court filing that she had been busy preparing for a sentencing hearing in another case. She asked for the deadline to be extended until Friday.

Jenner said in the filing that an attorney for Alamo told her he did not object to having the deadline extended. Barnes had not ruled on the request late Monday afternoon.

In the lawsuit, Barnes agreed to give the ministry an additional month to gather information on whether the Human Services Department acted in “bad faith” in removing 36 children from the ministry.

The Human Services Department says children in the ministry are endangered by practices that include allowing underage marriages and punishing violations of church rules with beatings. The ministry contends the removals are part of a campaign of harassment against the church.

Barnes’ ruling gives the ministry until Sept. 15 to file a response to the Human Services Department’s request for the case to be dismissed. The Human Services Department will then have five days to reply to the response

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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