12/9/08 – Former member, Anthony Lane, Reunited with His Children After Ten Long Years

The Baxter Bulletin
December 9, 2008

6 Alamo compound children to remain in custody of state

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Six children associated with the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries will remain in the custody of the state of Arkansas after being found in Indiana, officials said Monday.

Sebastian County Circuit Judge Mark Hewett held a closed-door hearing Monday morning to decide where the children should be placed for the next 30 to 60 days. Afterward, three of the children met with their father Anthony Lane, whom they barely know, as elders kicked him out of the ministries 10 years ago.

The children, two girls and a boy, asked Lane what he did for a living and where he lived — trying to fill in the gaps created by a decade in what critics decry as a cult.

“They’re just tired and they’ve been through a lot,” wife Lynne Lane said. “But they’re happy.”

Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, declined to offer any details about the court hearing.

Anthony Lane attended the hearing, but said his lawyer instructed him not to talk to reporters.

He previously said child welfare officials found the six children in Valparaiso, Ind., about 30 miles southeast of Chicago.

Since a Sept. 20 raid on Alamo’s Fouke compound, state officials have seized 32 children associated with the jailed evangelist’s ministries over stories of alleged beatings and sexual abuse. Alamo, 74, remains held without bond on charges that violated the Mann Act, a federal law that bans carrying women or girls across state lines for “prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”

Alamo, who has said “consent is puberty” when it comes to sex with young girls, has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. The evangelist has blamed his prosecution on a federal push to legalize same-sex marriage while outlawing polygamy, as well as a Vatican-led conspiracy and drug-abusing ex-followers.

Alamo faces trial in February on the 10 federal child-abuse charges in Arkansas. Alamo’s lawyer has said he may ask a judge for more time to prepare a defense.

So far, Munsell said no other children in other states have been taken into protective custody.

Alamo is said to have ministries and business operations in a number of states, including Colorado, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Child welfare officials in California visited an Alamo compound last week to search for children.

Anthony Lane, who works as a roofer in Texarkana, hired a lawyer to obtain custody of his children. However, he has said it was difficult to subpoena his former girlfriend because she moves among Alamo’s churches in Arkansas and California.

Lane said he last saw his oldest daughter in 2005 as he sat in his car reading a newspaper outside of Alamo’s church in Fort Smith. She offered him a ministry pamphlet, apparently unaware of who he was. When Lane told her he was her father, he said, she ran off.

Monday, Lane and his wife sat down with the children — including the son he had never seen — for about an hour.

“Not long enough,” Lynne Lane said.

The children recounted their love for fast-food hamburgers and pizza under the watch of state child welfare officials. The couple believe they’ll be granted regular visitation rights to the children soon.

“They were just really, really nice kids,” Lynne Lane said. “They looked very well and talked very well. They’re just nice kids all around.”

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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