10/7/08 – Alamo heads back to Arkansas
October 7, 2008
Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Still detained, Alamo heads back to Arkansas

Less than two weeks after his arrest at a resort hotel in Flagstaff, Ariz., evangelist Tony Alamo is en route to Arkansas to face charges of transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes, U. S. Marshal Richard O’Connell confirmed Monday.

Alamo, the 74-year-old leader of a multistate ministry with headquarters in Fouke, left the Coconino County jail in Flagstaff “over the weekend,” O’Connell said.

He said Alamo is expected to arrive in Arkansas in a week to 10 days and will be held somewhere in the state’s western district, which encompasses 34 counties from El Dorado to Mountain Home. He declined to be more specific, citing security concerns.

Alamo is being brought to Arkansas by the Justice Prisoner & Alien Transportation System, a branch of the U. S. Marshals Service that uses a network of airplanes, cars, vans and buses to transport prisoners across the country. An employee with the system referred questions to O’Connell.

After his return, Alamo will make an initial appearance in federal court in Texarkana, said Debbie Groom, an assistant U. S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith. The hearing hasn’t been scheduled, she said.

Alamo’s arrest on Sept. 25 came five days after more than 100 police officers and child protective services caseworkers swarmed the Fouke compound investigating allegations of physical and sexual abuse and the production of child pornography.

Six girls, ages 10 to 17, were removed from the church property and interviewed by police. Those girls are now being kept in foster homes.

Alamo has expressed “adamant denial” of the charges, attorney Patrick Beneca of Little Rock said Monday.

He said he and lead defense attorney John Wesley Hall visited Alamo in jail about a week ago.

“He’s being charged with something he’s not done, but otherwise, he’s in good spirits,” Beneca said.

In sermons posted on his Web site, www. alamoministries. com, Alamo promotes polygamy and says girls are ready to be married when they begin menstruating. But he has said he does not allow polygamy or underage marriages within his church.

In a Web journal on the site, Alamo claims he’s being persecuted for “preaching the whole word of God.” “People hate me for it,” Alamo says in an entry dated Friday. “They think I’m a pervert because of it.” A day earlier, he claimed in the journal: “Many inmates are getting saved. Everybody in the jail says, ‘It’s like Jesus came into this place in your body.’ They said that they were touched. They were crying and everything.” After founding a ministry in southern California, Alamo and his wife, Susan, moved to Crawford County in 1975 and established a compound in Dyer that was raided in 1991. Susan Alamo died in 1982.

Alamo’s followers established a church in Fouke in the mid-1990 s, while Alamo was at a halfway house in Texarkana, Texas, completing a sentence on federal tax-evasion charges. His church also has branches in Fort Smith; Saugus, Calif.; and New Jersey.

While Alamo has been jailed, church members have stepped up their efforts to spread Alamo’s message in Texarkana, said Mary Coker, founder of the anti-Alamo group Partnered Against Cult Activity. Last week, members of her group retrieved Alamo pamphlets from the windshields of cars at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and around the federal courthouse.

“I sat here over the weekend and cut up 479 that we had picked up in just a couple hours,” Coker said.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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