1/14/10 – TG: Judge orders Alamo to pay $2.5 million. Each victim will receive $500,000 ***COMMENTS

Texarkana Gazette
January 14, 2010
By: Lynn LaRowe

Judge orders Alamo to pay $2.5 million
Each victim will receive $500,000

Tony Alamo was ordered Wednesday to pay $2.5 million to five victims who testified during his July criminal trial in Texarkana that they were forced to wed their pastor when they were children.

“I think one of the greatest damages to these victims is suffered in the loss of their childlike faith in their creator,” U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes said. “The defendant has truly, truly damaged these five young girls and I don’t think any amount of money that this court could order would replace what they’ve lost.”

Barnes ordered each of the five victims would receive $500,000, which totals $2.5 million.

Alamo, whose given name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, was found guilty of all 10 counts listed in a federal indictment accusing him of bringing the five “Jane Does” across state lines for sex as children. Barnes sentenced the 75-year-old embattled evangelist to 175 years in federal prison Nov. 13.

The total $2.5 million Barnes ordered Alamo to pay was $10 million less than what the government’s expert, Dr. Sharon Cooper, said would be necessary to cover the costs the victims could incur for physical and psychological treatments over their life spans.

Cooper, a world-renowned developmental and forensic pediatrician, estimated each Jane Doe could face $2,738,500 in expenses for medical and psychological care if they live to 70.

Alamo’s lead defense attorney, Don Ervin of Houston, argued that Cooper’s computations were speculative and pointed to victim impact testimony three of the victims gave at the November sentencing hearing, which included statements denying Alamo’s influence had ruined them.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner, lead prosecutor, said she is thankful Barnes issued a restitution order.

“The office of civil enforcement within the U.S. Attorney’s Office will begin working diligently to identify and seize assets,” Jenner said. “We believe there are assets that will totally satisfy this restitution order. The challenge is going to be uncovering them and finding what names they’ve been placed under.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Clay Fowlkes and Candace Taylor prosecuted as well.

Jenner referred to testimony offered by current and former followers during Alamo’s November 2008 detention hearing and July 2009 trial regarding the group’s habit of placing properties in the names of members and regularly transferring ownership among them. The practice began after the Internal Revenue Service and labor authorities seized assets in 1991 as recompense for unpaid taxes, according to testimony.

Alamo’s lawyers, Erwin, John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock and Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, are appealing Alamo’s conviction and sentence. Distribution of restitution will be delayed during the appeals process though the government can request that assets be frozen until the case is resolved. If Alamo’s conviction still stands when his appeals are exhausted, assets identified as Alamo’s can be used to satisfy the judgment.

As he was led—cuffed, leathered and shackled—from Texarkana’s downtown federal building, Alamo told reporters he has no money.

“I’m broke!” he exclaimed.

The Jane Does could file civil lawsuits if they wish to seek additional compensation for the bevy of illnesses, conditions and injuries Cooper testified they possess as a result of their time with Alamo.

“These would be considered over the top,” Cooper said when asked about the extent of abuse the Jane Does experienced as wives of Alamo. “These victims spent many hours of many days of their lives having to massage his body, sometimes for eight or nine hours, all through the night.”

The lengthy episodes of stooping while rubbing Alamo is the likely source of back pain, muscle spasms and arthritic symptoms, Cooper said.

Cooper discussed the effects “adverse childhood experiences,” intimate partner abuse, childhood sexual abuse and “years of false imprisonment at the hands of the defendant” have had and will have on Alamo’s victims.

As Cooper testified, Alamo drummed his fingers on the table in front of him, rolled his eyes, sipped coffee and whispered to his lawyers. Occasionally Alamo appeared to nod off as he leaned back in his seat at the defense table.

Cooper said all five victims have gynecological problems she believes are the result of childhood sexual abuse. Several suffer panic attacks, symptomatic of the post-traumatic stress disorder plaguing them. At least one has had thoughts of suicide; depression is common, and all are at risk for alcohol and substance abuse, Cooper said.

Cardiac problems resulting from stress, eye problems caused by being punched repeatedly in the face, dysfunctional relationships and other maladies were mentioned by Cooper. As a specific example, Cooper described a car accident on church property that left one of the Jane Does needing emergency care and follow-up physical therapy.

When auto insurance sent a check to cover the treatment, Alamo confiscated most of the money and the victim went without the care a doctor prescribed, Cooper said.

“I think these women will struggle mightily,” Cooper said, diagnosing the victims as “spiritually wounded.”

Cooper said “clergy abuse” victims are at risk for helplessness and dependency, often believing they are unacceptably different, and may develop a mistrust of anyone who offers them assistance, especially if the help is faith based.

Tuesday, Hall filed a motion asking that references to the victims’ current religious beliefs be off limits.

“There are repeated references in the government’s expert’s reports to the Jane Does’ religion and apparent loss thereof by some,” Hall’s motion said. “Whether one or more of the ‘Jane Does’ has become an Atheist, Agnositic, Buddhist, Hinduist, Sikhist, Scientologist, or remained Christian is irrelevant and even inquiring into the question in the court, a branch of the government, violates the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

As the three-hour hearing wound to a close, Alamo appeared increasingly agitated.

When Barnes said the victims ranged from 8 to 16 when their “pastor, prophet and person of trust” began to abuse them, Alamo turned to Hall and said, “It was 9.”

Jenner said federal marshals intend to move Alamo this week from his cell in a jail down the street from the courthouse to a unit within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Where Alamo is headed hasn’t been announced.

In: 2010

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3 Posts

  1. its not enough Says:

    it can never be enough. what was done to those young girls is unforgivable. hell isnt enough. tony alamo you are a true reprobate. your pathetic army of old men should all be in jail with you. when you are dead and your evil followers are lost it wont be soon enough. you are proof to me that there is no god. i feel ashamed of myself for not killing you when i had the chance. i wish that hell did exist if only to torture you for eternity. fuck you and your slaves

  2. Mark Kirk Says:

    I was in his church for a time early in the 80s . I quickly saw it was a cult,he employed brainwashing system. he claimed to have a inside line with God that contradicted himself and the bible{such as knowing the mark on the hand or forehead or endtime things the bible clearly states no man knows]he deprived me of sleep and ran his tapes 24-7 whenever we worked or ate.I was never alone or allowed freetime.He gladly took peoples lives earnings for the cult. When i left I jumped from a second story window and fled on foot all the way back home to ore. I have not been on the webb. till recently or would have written sooner to give testimony if needed.I wonder if any is still needed at all or if there is any way to get paid back for bus tickets there and back that he said he would provide? please refer me to a person or office with email addresses for my concerns or if I can help with testimony.

  3. 297 days to go « 365 DAYS Says:

    […] “I think these women will struggle mightily,” Dr. Sharon Cooper testifies at the judgement evaluation. I am not one of the Jane Does, and I want nothing from Tony Alamo; nothing can replace the innocence with which I once lived, that now lays tesselated like parched clay across the Arkansas landscape. […]

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