11/25/08 – Tony Alamo facing 10 counts of sexual misconduct

Texarkana Gazette
November 25, 2008
By: Lynn LaRowe

Alamo facing 8 more counts
Controversial evangelist accused of 10 counts of sexual misconduct


Eight additional counts alleging sexual misconduct with young girls have been added to the two counts Tony Alamo already faces, according to federal court records.

The “superseding” indictment will remain sealed until the controversial evangelist is arraigned on the new charges.

A notation entered Monday in Alamo’s federal criminal case shows the grand jury reindicted him Nov. 19. A warrant on the new charges was issued the next day.

Because the new indictment is sealed, the exact nature of the allegations leading to the eight new charges isn’t known.

However, Alamo’s defense attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock, said the allegations are similar to those in the original indictment.

“It’s more of the same, only much older,” Hall said of the new charges.

Hall said the newest accounts of alleged misdeeds by Alamo occurred as long ago as 1994 and involve several different underage girls. Federal law allows for prosecution of sexual abuse and kidnapping cases involving minors for the length of the allegedly victimized child’s life, said Texarkana attorney Craig Henry.

Alamo was initially indicted Oct. 1 and pleaded not guilty Oct. 17.

He was accused then of violating a federal law, the Mann Act, that makes it a crime to bring a minor across state lines for sex. The first indictment alleges Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, brought a 13-year-old girl from California to Arkansas for sex in 2004.

The second count of the original indictment accused him of aiding and abetting the transport of the same girl across state lines in 2005.

Alamo faces between five years and life in a federal prison if convicted.

His criminal trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 2 before U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes of the Western District of Arkansas.

Hall said some of the parents of children who have been taken into state custody by child welfare officials have been subpoenaed to testify in Alamo’s upcoming trial.

On Monday, the jailed church leader was brought from his cell in the jail annex behind the Bi-State Justice Center in downtown Texarkana to the Miller County Juvenile court located a few blocks away on Hazel Street.

Alamo wore a denim jacket with “BCCC” stenciled on its back. The letters stand for Bowie County Correctional Center. The annex where Alamo is being held is overseen by the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office.

An attorney representing a pair of sisters who were living in Alamo’s Fouke, Ark., residence when the Arkansas Department of Human Services took custody of them Sept. 20 filed a subpoena for the 74-year-old to appear.

The girls were taken amid allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

Search warrants were executed on Alamo’s Fouke compound in September by the FBI and Arkansas State Police.

On Monday after testifying, Alamo said a few words as he was escorted to a waiting car by federal marshals and ASP members.

“I wish those people asking the questions had known the Bible better,” he said to KSLA Television cameraman Fred Gamble.

Hall said he’d advised Alamo not to answer any questions that dealt with the allegations in his criminal case, though he did testify about other issues.

“Spiritual wives” of Alamo’s were not married to the church leader simultaneously but serially, Hall said.

Alamo is still legally married to Sharon Alamo, though court documents indicate he has fathered children with multiple women.

His “former” wives continue to reside in the main house called the “school and ministry” from where the six girls were taken. Former wives are supported by the church as long as they want to be, Hall said.

“They were asking questions about his alleged total control,” Hall said of Monday’s testimony.

Witnesses who testified last week in the custody hearings and in a bond hearing for Alamo last month described having to make written requests to Alamo for items such as toilet paper.

“He told them that the church has purchasing agents just like businesses,” Hall said. “When somebody needs something, they put it on a list and they go buy it. Tony told them ‘I don’t go to the store.’”

Hall said some of the questions Alamo was asked by ad litem lawyers representing the girls prompted objections from Marshall Moore, the Texarkana attorney representing the parents of the girls who still follow Alamo.

“They started arguing with him about the Bible,” Hall said. “The judge sustained objections relating to religious doctrine.”

Hall said Alamo appears to have lost about 20 pounds since he was jailed Sept. 25.

“He’s says they’re treating him well in the jail,” Hall said. “His hair’s a little grayer and his face is thinner.”

Alamo, who is legally blind, has a special device with him in jail that allows him to read. He is permitted visits by people whose names appear on a list posted in the jail. Hall said Alamo is allowed to send and receive mail but he is not allowed Internet access.

On Nov. 18, another 20 children, ages 14 months to 17 years, were seized by Department of Human Services.

Seventeen were removed from two black Ford Excursions as they headed away from Fouke toward Texas. Three boys who were in Miller County Juvenile Court to testify as witnesses were also taken the same day.

Read the accompanying story for more information about the custody situation of the 20 recently taken children of Alamo Christian Ministries members and the six girls seized by DHS in September.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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