1/28/10 – TG: Decisions coming today in Alamo custody cases *** COMMENTS

Texarkana Gazette
January 28, 2010
By: Lynn LaRowe

Decisions coming today in Alamo custody cases

Hearings began Wednesday in Miller County on whether children of Alamo loyalists should be permanently removed from their parents, continue in temporary foster home placements or be reunited with family.

The closed proceedings, slated to be held Wednesday and today, concern six families, said Cheryl Barnes, Child Protective Services Watch Legal Team spokeswoman. CPS Watch is a parent advocacy organization.

Barnes said no decisions concerning the termination of parental rights or changes to case plans with the Arkansas Department of Human Services will be announced by Circuit Judge Joe Griffin until today.

Four of the families’ hearings are to determine whether parental rights should be terminated and two are review hearings to give the court an idea of whether the parents are completing the requirements for unification.

One set of parents did not appear at custody hearings in October regarding their four children. Carlos and Sophie Parish presumably fled with a son who was born in June because they feared the Arkansas Department of Human Services would take their baby as well.

Carlos Parish was present at Wednesday’s hearing. Barnes said Sophie Parish wasn’t in court Tuesday.

Four Parish children are among 31 who have been taken into state custody since a raid of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries Fouke outpost Sept. 20, 2008. Since then, a few of the youngsters have aged out of foster care and opted to take advantage of services available from the state for young adults who were in state custody on their 18th birthdays. A handful have been returned to the parents and the majority remain wards of the state.

The mother of a child in state care was jailed during proceedings last year for refusing to divulge the location of her husband and other children.

Barnes said DHS has vowed she will not be considered for reunification with her children unless she produces her husband and missing children.

The children were taken amid allegations of neglect and abuse.

The biggest stumbling blocks for the Alamo loyalists are the court’s directives to find housing and employment independent of the controversial group.

Members live on ministry property, labor as volunteers for the ministry and are provided food, shelter, clothing and other necessities.

Barnes said Phillip Kuhn, the lawyer representing parents who remain devoted to Alamo, has filed a motion asking that the residency and employment conditions be removed from the family reunification plans.

Barnes also said that Alamo’s departure from Texarkana in the custody of federal marshals should be taken notice of by the court. Officials have said Alamo will not be able to run businesses or his ministry from within the confines of a federal prison.

“I think it’s probably the beginning of the end,” Barnes said of Alamo Ministries. “The government may start seizing assets … Tony is pretty narcissistic. I don’t think he’ll want anyone else running his church.”

Barnes said the parents at Tuesday’s hearings appeared “pretty somber.”

If Alamo no longer dictates the activities of his followers, the concern that children are in danger should lessen, Barnes said.

“We really want people to see these parents as individuals,” Barnes said. “Tony Alamo is not on trial here. Most of these people haven’t done anything to abuse their kids and it’s unfair for them to have to defend his actions.”

Testimony in Alamo’s criminal trial described a culture within the group that yielded to Alamo’s will unfailingly. Children could be removed from their parents, forced to fast or beaten at Alamo’s bidding.

Barnes said that if the group does fracture because of court-ordered property seizures and/or Alamo’s absence, the parents might need to acquire independent housing and employment anyway.

In: 2010

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  1. connie Says:

    what a pity that these people dont even know they have been catholics for years because when they stopped following the gospel and started following alamo that made alamo their pope. wake up people the real pope lives in the vatican in rome.

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