9/26/09 – TG: Tony Alamo Christian Ministries: Parents fear 3-month-old will be taken over ‘bad faith’ affidavit

Texarkana Gazette
September 26, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Tony Alamo Christian Ministries: Parents fear 3-month-old will be taken over ‘bad faith’ affidavit

The parents of a 3-month-old say they are afraid Arkansas child welfare officials are going to take their baby in retaliation for an affidavit signed by the father and filed in federal court last week.

The affidavit, filed Sept. 15 by Carlos Parrish, is a document supporting allegations the Arkansas Department of Human Services acted in bad faith when it began taking the children of Alamo devotees in Sept. 2008. A lawsuit, filed on behalf of the ministry and two fathers, Bert Krantz and Greg Seago, accuses DHS of using a child abuse investigation to disband the controversial group.

The removal petition for the Parrish’s infant, who is still breast feeding, was filed three days after Carlos Parrish’s affidavit, said Phillip Kuhn, the Florida lawyer who filed the civil suit and is representing Alamo loyalists in custody proceedings.

“The question is, ‘Where’s the proof,’” said Carlos Parrish regarding the petition for removal of his son. “There’s no abuse and he’s not neglected.”

Carlos and Sophie Parrish’s four other children were taken from them by DHS in Nov. Their 7-, 5-, 3- and 1-year-old children are in foster care.

“I want to grow old with my children,” Carlos Parrish said. “We need to stop this from happening. Next it’s going to be other people’s children.”

Carlos and Sophie Parrish were both raised in the ministry.

Carlos Parrish was 19 when he wed 12-year-old Sophie Thorne Parrish.

Kuhn filed a motion Friday for a temporary restraining order in the federal case that would force DHS to specifically outline exactly how and when the child has been abused and how the danger is imminent. It also asks that the federal court receive notice within four hours if the baby is taken.

“The plaintiffs offered Mr. Parrish’s testimony into evidence…to prove that the defendants do not truly believe the environment is harmful to children,” the motion said. “Two days later, during a supervised visit, DHS worker Beth Kenzell, stated that the department was going to seek to remove the Parrish’s baby and terminate their rights to the other children because they were not ‘cooperating.’”

Carlos Parrish said a caseworker screamed at them while pounding her fists on a desk the last time they had a supervised visit with their other children.

“My caseworker was yelling, it was barbaric, she was yelling at me and my wife threatening that she was going to take (the baby) and have him adopted,” Carlos Parrish said. “The baby was crying. My wife was scared. She had to leave the building.”

Kuhn said the only ground given in the removal petition is that the Parrishes haven’t acquired housing and employment independent of the ministry.

“These same conditions have been present during the infant’s entire life (3 months); however, DHS did not seek removal until after the parents participated in this lawsuit,” the motion said.

“The bond between a mother and a baby is just a mysterious thing that I don’t think anybody ought to fool with unless there’s just absolute evidence that child is in physical danger. Why now? The coincidence is too much,” Kuhn said in a phone interview Friday. “As far as I’m concerned it’s just cruel. It’s going to damage this child permanently.”

News reports indicate a copy of the removal petition was released to media personnel.

“It’s a violation of the law,” said Circuit Judge Joe Griffin.

Carlos Parrish said he hasn’t seen the petition and was informed of it by Kuhn.

Cheryl Barnes, an advocate for parents dealing with foster care systems, said the alleged retaliation will discourage others from testifying in the federal case.

Kuhn’s motion indicates the baby’s case is scheduled for a hearing Oct. 27 before Griffin in Miller County juvenile court.

Griffin said he’s been out of town and was unaware a petition had been filed.

“I’ve had no discussions with anyone about that recently,” Griffin said. “Nobody has approached me about a baby.”

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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