11/17/08 – KTAL VIDEO Report: Custody Hearings Begin for Alamo Girls

November 17, 2008
by: Karen Hopkins

Custody Hearings Begin for Alamo Girls

The final custody hearings started Monday for the six girls taken from the Tony Alamo Ministries Compound. The Arkansas Department of Human Services deemed the children in immediate danger, after a raid on the compound.

Two hearings began Monday, but Judge Jim Hudson will make a decision Tuesday. Hudson said he has to listen to all concerned sides before deciding the fate of the girls. More than 30 witnesses testified at the Texarkana Juvenile Courtroom Monday. “The room was full. I couldn’t really tell how many witnesses came.” Court Appointed Special Advocate Danita Abernathy said.

Alamo church members would not talk to KTAL outside the courthouse. But inside, testimony dragged on for hours behind closed doors. “Some of which will testified by appearance, video depositions, but many of them were live,” Hudson said.

Authorities took six girls from Tony Alamo’s church in September. Alamo is in jail, awaiting trial for moving children across state lines for sex. “Our role is to be available for the children, to support them,” Abernathy said.

For two months the state has cared for the girls. Tuesday, the judge must decide if it’s safe for them to go home. “The girls are nervous, as we all are, and anxious in a situation like this, but they are doing well,” Abernathy said.

Talk of what’s best for the children has spread across Fouke. “as most of the people in fouke, we’re just concerned about the kids.” Fouke Mayor Terry Purvis said.

Judges will decide four custody cases for the girls taken from the church. Two cases will finish tomorrow. Another Texarkana judge, Judge Joe Griffin, will hear the other two later this week. If the girls stay in state custody, judges will revisit the cases next year to make a permanent custody decisions.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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