9/15/09 – TG: Judge: Kolbek’s silence equals admission of guilt

Texarkana Gazette
September 15, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Judge: Kolbek’s silence equals admission of guilt

The silence of a fugitive associate of Tony Alamo amounts to an admission of guilt, according to a federal judge’s ruling Monday.

U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes signed an order creating two separate lawsuits from a civil case that seeks damages from John Kolbek and Tony Alamo.

Two former followers filed the action last November accusing Kolbek and Alamo of battery, false imprisonment, outrage and conspiracy.

Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondrisek claim they were beaten as children by Kolbek with a 6-foot-long, inches thick, wooden paddle handcrafted for the purpose.

Alamo allegedly participated in and directed the corrections that left the victims bruised, bleeding and injured.

Alamo’s lawyers have filed responses to the suit on his behalf denying the allegations.

But Kolbek, who is wanted by state and federal authorities related to a beating Calagna allegedly suffered, has ignored the civil action pending against him while managing for nearly a year to elude officials seeking to criminally prosecute him.

Kolbek is wanted for battery in Sebastian County, Ark., where Tony Alamo Christian Ministries has an outpost in Fort Smith. Federal authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest for unlawful flight from prosecution.

Because his whereabouts are unknown, Texarkana attorney David Carter sought and received permission to serve Kolbek with notice locally.

Kolbek’s continued indifference to the civil suit amounts to a default, “… which means he has admitted all allegations in plaintiff’s complaint,” the order states.

“Because of this default, plaintiffs’ case against separate defendant Kolbek will contain many procedural and substantive differences than its case against separate defendant Hoffman,” the order states, referring to Alamo by his given name of Bernie LaZar Hoffman. “Allowing a severance of the claims against separate defendant Kolbek will serve the interests of expedition, economy and convenience.”

The suit alleges Kolbek was Alamo’s enforcer.

He allegedly beat Calagna on property in Fouke, Ark., when he was 16.

At the age of 17 Calagna was allegedly subjected to Kolbek’s board in Fort Smith.

According to the complaint, Alamo struck Calagna in the face before Kolbek took over. Halfway through the assault, Calagna’s pants and thermal underwear were allegedly removed so they would not serve as barriers to the blows, the complaint states.

The beating allegedly continued until the board broke.

“Calagna had made a perceived sarcastic remark concerning the fictional character Harry Potter,” the suit states.

Ondrisek was allegedly beaten first at age 12 by Kolbek for digging in the dirt on ministry property when he was supposed to be working, according to the complaint and testimony Ondrisek gave during Alamo’s detention hearing in federal court last year.

At 14, he was brought to Kolbek again for punishment, the suit alleges.

After delivering 30 to 40 blows to Ondrisek’s face and head, Kolbek struck him with the paddle repeatedly, making it impossible for him to sit for more than a week, the complaint said.

At 17, Ondrisek was beaten by Kolbek while Alamo watched and gave directions, the complaint alleges.

“On this occasion, defendant Alamo announced the arrival of enforcer Kolbek by the sarcastic phrase, ‘Here’s Johnny.’ Kolbek then began to strike Ondrisek with his hand some 10 to 15 times … Ondrisek raised his hands in an attempt to protect himself resulting in serious and permanent injury to his left hand and wrist. He was then struck approximately 40 times on the buttocks with a board,” the suit states.

“The beating stopped when Ondrisek blacked out.”

Once the court has approved it, Carter can begin the processing of seizing any assets bearing Kolbek’s name and liquidating them to satisfy any judgment the court levies against him.

“The court’s order brings us one step closer to setting a hearing for purposes of proving the amount of damages which should be awarded against Kolbek. We will request such a hearing be set as soon as possible,” Carter said.

Alamo is scheduled to face a jury in the civil case in July 2010.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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