2/24/10 – TG: Alamo followers to appeal civil suit’s dismissal

Texarkana Gazette
February 24, 2010
By: Lynn LaRowe

Alamo Ministries to appeal civil suit’s dismissal

Tony Alamo Christian Ministries has filed notice that it will appeal a federal judge’s dismissal of a civil suit concerning the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ seizure of children from Alamo loyalists.

The suit was filed last year by Florida attorney Phillip Kuhn on behalf of the controversial ministry and two fathers whose rights to their children were recently terminated by an Arkansas state judge. The suit accused DHS of using a child abuse investigation to disband the ministry and alleged civil rights violations.

Little Rock lawyer John Wesley Hall Jr. filed a notice of appeal in the civil case Monday. A brief outlining the grounds on which the appeal is based hasn’t been filed.

U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes dismissed the civil suit Feb. 2, referring to established legal doctrine that prohibits federal court intervention in state court proceedings, such as custody cases, except in rare circumstances.

Barnes’ opinion said the fathers can raise their claims in state court and that the church did not have standing to file the suit.

At issue in the federal suit are state court requirements for the parents to find housing and employment independent of Alamo Ministries if they desire reunification of their families. Alamo devotees have lamented that doing so is tantamount to choosing between their children and their salvation.

The two fathers, Greg Seago and Bert Krantz, named as plaintiffs with the ministry in the civil suit, lost their parental rights permanently at the close of a hearing Jan. 30.

Since a raid of ministry property Sept. 20, 2008, in Fouke, Ark., by members of the FBI and Arkansas State Police, 36 children have been removed amid allegations of abuse and neglect.

Alamo was convicted last year of all 10 counts listed in a federal criminal indictment accusing him of taking young girls he had wed as children across state lines for sex. Barnes sentenced Alamo, whose given name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, to 175 years in federal prison.

Alamo is appealing his conviction. He is being held in a high-security unit of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Tucson, Ariz.

In: 2010

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