9/22/10 – AP: Convicted Tony Alamo seeks new trial

Greenwich Time (Greenwich, Connecticut)
September 22, 2010
The Associated Press

Convicted evangelist Tony Alamo seeks new trial

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — The attorney for an Arkansas evangelist who was convicted on child sex abuse charges has asked a federal appeals court for a new trial, saying prosecutors never proved his client took young girls across state lines for sex.

Tony Alamo’s lawyer, John Wesley Hall Jr., told the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals during a hearing Tuesday that Alamo should at least be resentenced by another judge.

Prosecutors said the five victims, now ages 19 to 32, were taken as Alamo’s polygamous “wives” at ages as young as 8 and were kept under his strict control. The counts in the indictment referred to trips the girls took with Alamo or at his direction from March 1994 through October 2005.

Alamo, 76, was convicted last year and sentenced to 175 years in prison.

During Tuesday’s hearing, members of the three-judge appellate panel in St. Louis asked what purpose the girls served on the trips besides being Alamo’s sexual companions. Judge Lavenski Smith noted that Alamo could have directed a girl’s travel even if he didn’t take the trip himself.

“If I send someone to go get me something out of state, aren’t I responsible?” Smith asked.

Hall responded that prosecutors were required to show that the transportation was related to sex. In some cases, he said, the “interstate transportation has nothing to do with the act. It’s incidental at best.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner noted the girls testified that the only reason they were in Alamo’s company was to be his sexual companions.

“The inescapable fact here is that all of these young girls were under the complete control of the defendant,” Jenner said. “He controlled how they moved, he controlled what they ate, he placed them on fasts to punish them, he controlled where they could go.”

The court did not immediately make a ruling in the case.

Alamo was convicted in July 2009 of 10 violations of the federal Mann Act, which prohibits taking someone across state lines for “any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.” He was sentenced in November, and is being held at a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz.

Hall told the panel that two counts referred to trips a girl made from Fouke in Miller County to visit her mother in Moffett, Okla. He acknowledged testimony that Alamo had sex with the girl before and after the trips, but he contended that the sex had nothing to do with the travel.

Jenner responded that the count accused Alamo of directing the girl to return to Fouke so that “the sexual relationship could be perpetuated.”

“The entire trip was not elective by the child, was not elective by the child’s mother, but was totally directed by the defendant,” she said.

Hall also argued that if even if Alamo’s convictions are affirmed, his punishment should be overturned because of statements made by U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes during his formal sentencing. Barnes told Alamo he would some day face a judge with higher and greater authority, and “May he have mercy on your soul.”

“It was within the range, but when he made that comment he made it sound like, ‘I’m making it as hard on you as I can, but somebody else can have mercy on you later,'” Hall said.

Jenner argued that Barnes relied on federal sentencing guidelines and not on his own sense of religion.

In: 2010

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