8/15/13 – TG: Former Tony Alamo follower pleads guilty to sexual abuse of a minor

Texarkana Gazette
August 15, 2013
By: Jim Williamson – Texarkana Gazette

Former Tony Alamo follower pleads guilty to sexual abuse of a minor

A former Tony Alamo follower described as “engaged in horrendous conduct involving sexual abuse of a minor child” pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday.

Douglas Christopher, 59, of Valparaiso, Ind., pleaded guilty to knowingly transporting a minor from Oklahoma to Arkansas with the intent to engage in sexual activity, said U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge, who serves the Western District of Arkansas.

Eldridge made the announcement Wednesday.

The plea occurred before U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith.

“This defendant … engaged in horrendous conduct involving sexual abuse of a minor child. He has now been convicted. I appreciate the tireless work of law enforcement and our office to bring sexual perpetrators to justice. We will not rest in our efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute those who abuse our children,” Eldridge said.

Fort Smith Police Department Detective Kris Deason praised the courage of the victim.

“I am proud of the victim for coming forward and disclosing what had happened to her. Because of her courage, another child abuser will suffer the consequences of his behavior,” Deason said.

Christopher, a member of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, previously lived at an Alamo compound in Muldrow, Okla. In 2009, a law-enforcement raid of Alamo’s compound in Fouke, Ark., caused Alamo satellite-compound residents to go into hiding.

Christopher and other followers relocated to Valparaiso, Ind.

While living in Oklahoma, Christopher was assigned to stand watch at properties under the organization’s control.

One location, on Division Street in Fort Smith, Ark., was known as the “mechanic’s shop.”

About June 2003, Christopher began transporting a minor, whose mother he had married in 2000, from the family’s home in Oklahoma to the mechanic’s shop for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse.

In August 2008, when the minor was 13 years old, Christopher took the minor to the mechanic’s shop where they then had sexual intercourse in a van parked inside the shop. Shortly after this trip, the minor and siblings were taken into protective custody in response to the federal investigation.

Christopher was originally charged in a five-count indictment on Jan. 16, 2013.

His sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including Christopher’s prior criminal record, if any, his role in the offense and characteristics of the violations.

When child-welfare officials in Indiana checked records, an old warrant showed Christopher was involved in a child abuse case in California.

Christopher allegedly helped hold down 12-year-old Justin Miller as he was publicly beaten before an assembly of Alamo loyalists in 1988 on ministry properties near the Saugus community of Santa Clarita, according to court documents.

Christopher, also known as Matthew Allen Rehn, received three years’ probation and a 164-day jail sentence for the child abuse charge, according to an interview with a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in July 2009.

The sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases will be less than the maximum. Christopher faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a fine of $250,000.

This case was investigated by Deason and FBI Special Agent Timmy Akins. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner is prosecuting the case for the U.S.

In: 2013, Breaking News

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