11/20/08 – Alamo protests hearing testimonies

Texarkana Gazette
November 20, 2008
By: Lynn LaRowe

Prisoner protests hearing testimonies

Tony Alamo issued a statement from jail Wednesday regarding witness testimony being heard this week in custody hearings for six girls removed on Sept. 20 from his ministry’s compound in Fouke.

“She’s a liar right out of the pit of hell,” Alamo said of a 14-year-old girl who testified Monday that she had been molested by Alamo when she was a 12-year-old living in his house.

“I’m being found guilty without a presumption of innocence,” Alamo said. “I have no say in what’s going on. This is one-sided and I can’t be heard.”

Alamo’s defense attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock, said his client is being tried “in absentia.”

“Usually, trials are only held without the defendant present when they’ve jumped bail and don’t show up for court,” Hall said.

Testimony being heard in final custody hearings for the girls has included graphic descriptions of alleged sexual and physical abuse.

Texarkana attorney Marshall Moore, who is representing

the girls’ parents, who remain loyal to Alamo’s teachings, made a motion Tuesday morning to close the court to the media per the Arkansas Juvenile Code. The hearings have been closed to the media, though a Texarkana Gazette reporter was allowed to observe Monday.

Circuit Judge Jim Hudson will continue hearings for two girls today.

Circuit Judge Joe Griffin heard testimony Tuesday and Wednesday in the cases of two pairs of sisters.

Hudson and Griffin could not conduct the hearings at the same time in different courtrooms because of the overlap of lawyers. Moore and DHS attorney Mary Helen Mitchell must be present in both cases.

A man and a woman, former members of Alamo’s church, testified Wednesday morning. In the afternoon, the videotaped testimony of minor witnesses was heard.

“It’s the same allegations,” Griffin said, referring to the accusations made by others who testified previously. “It’s an accumulation. They might have added another member’s name, but the general allegations are the same.”

Griffin will continue his hearings when Hudson’s are over. It is not known how long the hearings will last.

“Some of the witnesses may move rather fast, but I think we can anticipate that the involved parents’ testimony could take some time,” Griffin said.

Hudson said he believes the hearings in his court will last “at least two full days at a minimum.”

Alamo’s alleged enforcer, 49-year-old John Kolbeck, has been repeatedly alleged by witnesses to have used a 6-foot long, 3-foot wide, half-inch thick paddle to deliver blows that drew blood.

Alamo, a controversial evangelist, is accused of ordering some beatings, watching them and participating. A warrant for Kolbeck’s arrest on a charge of second degree battery was issued more than a month ago in Sebastian County, Ark., where Alamo has property in Fort Smith.

FBI spokesman Steve Frazier for the Little Rock field office, said a federal “unlawful flight to avoid prosecution” warrant had been issued for Kolbeck within the last week. Frazier said such warrants typically were dismissed after an individual is captured but sometimes the felony charge can stand.

The warrant was issued in relation to the Fort Smith battery charge.

A 14-year-old girl who testified Monday said Kolbeck’s wife held her down while she was beaten by John Kolbeck as she bent over a chair.

Besides Kollbeck, no others associated with the Alamo Ministries are presently facing criminal charges.

Violating Tony Alamo’s rules could lead to a “report” being made by a fellow follower, witnesses testified Monday.

“Corrections” from Kolbeck, forced fasting, a change in residence and “diesel therapy,” were some of the disciplinary techniques alleged as being common in the Alamo ministry.

When she “questioned” Tony Alamo about her younger sisters being made to stay up past midnight to listen to one of Alamo’s “messages,” the 14-year-old was sent from Alamo’s residence to live in the “green house,” she testified Monday.

The green house was called the “house of scorn” by Alamo, the girl said.

Diesel therapy consisted of being made to ride along with one of the Alamo truckers for weeks at a time, testified an 18-year-old former follower Monday.

Both witnesses Monday also described working on the compound and never receiving a paycheck.

Former and current followers testified in the church leader’s detention hearing in federal court that items such as toilet paper had to be requested in written form and were given only with Alamo’s permission.

Mitchell argued Monday that the parents are “abdicating their parental duties” to Alamo when he allegedly controlled where they lived, how they were disciplined, how they were educated and who they could marry, and that constitutes neglect.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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