12/8/08 – Hearing slated for 6 children

Texarkana Gazette
December 8, 2008
By: Lynn LaRowe

Hearing slated for 6 children

A probable cause hearing to address the temporary custody of six children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries followers found last week in Indiana will be held today in Fort Smith, Ark.

The children all have the same mother. The father of three of them, Texarkana roofer Anthony Lane, a former follower, said last week he is filled with anticipation.

“I’m very excited,” Lane said last week. “I hope they’ll be open to me.”

He hasn’t seen his two daughters, ages 13 and 11, in a decade and has never met his 9-year-old son.

When Lane was “kicked out” of the church 10 years ago, the woman he called his wife was pregnant.

The locations of close to 100 other children named on removal orders signed by a judge in Miller County in October remain unknown.

Today, Sebastian County Circuit Judge Mark Hewett will decide in whose custody the children will be placed for the next 30 to 60 days. Arkansas’ juvenile code mandates that within that time period an adjudication hearing to address permanent custody be conducted.

If Lane and any other parents who attend the hearing today choose, evidence will be presented from both the Arkansas Department of Human Services and the parents or their lawyers. Ad litem attorneys, appointed to represent the interests of the children in court, will also have their say.

The parents can also opt to waive the probable cause hearings and ask Hewett to address the issue of visitation.

The parents of 26 other children removed in September and November are being permitted at least weekly supervised visits.

The custody of six girls removed Sept. 20 from properties in Fouke, Ark., has been addressed in Miller County Circuit Court. Circuit Judge Jim Hudson ordered that two girls would remain in foster care but that reunification was possible if the parents severed economic, employment and residential ties with the church. Circuit Judge Joe Griffin ruled the same for two pairs of sisters.

Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson decided at a probable cause hearing last month that 20 children seized in November would remain in foster care.

One boy, a 17-year-old with a birthday later this month, is scheduled for an adjudication hearing in a couple of weeks.

The hearing must be conducted before he turns 18 or the state will no longer have any jurisdiction over his case, said DHS Director of Communications Julie Munsell.

If he is ordered to remain in foster care, the state can offer him residential, educational and job placement services, Munsell said.

The other 19 taken in November will appear for adjudication hearings in January.

Today, Hewett will set a date for the adjudication hearings of the six found in Indiana if the children are not returned to their parents.

All of the children were seized amid allegations of neglect and abuse.

Alamo is accused of ordering beatings and days-long fasts for the children who reside on ministry property.

Alamo’s alleged polygamist lifestyle includes being married to girls as young as 8, recently unsealed court documents show.

Girls named in the documents allege having their nude photos taken by Alamo with a Polaroid camera and being made to watch pornographic videos to learn sexual techniques.

When officials with the Arkansas State Police and FBI raided the Fouke compound in September, October and November, pornography and a collection of Barbie dolls the 74-year-old evangelist allegedly kept in his bedroom weren’t found, documents show.

A Polaroid camera, sermon drafts, files marked young girls getting married and other documents were taken as evidence.

Alamo is facing a 10-count federal indictment in the Texarkana division of the Western District of Arkansas. Allegations that he
brought minor females across state lines for sex date to 1994, a time when Alamo was on supervised release after serving time in prison for tax evasion.

Alamo is scheduled for a criminal trial in February. He was denied bail and is being held in a jail in downtown Texarkana.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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