12/17/08 – 4 Alamo ministry children to remain with state

December 17, 2008

4 Alamo ministry children to remain with state

Four young brothers associated with the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries will remain in state custody as investigations continue
into alleged physical and sexual abuse at the church, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Lawyer Pamela Fisk of Texarkana, Texas, said state child welfare officials found the boys with their mother Friday in central Arkansas. All remain in good health, though their 17-year-old brother seized earlier by state officials allegedly suffered beatings while attending the evangelist’s church, Fisk said.

Miller County Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson found that the state had enough probable-cause evidence to keep the children after a
closed-door hearing Wednesday, Fisk said.

The boy’s father, who previously left the church under his own will, had plans to reunite with their mother after she left the ministries, Fisk said. She will represent both of the parents in future custody hearings.

“Getting back together and out of the ministries was already in the works before this case started,” the lawyer told The Associated Press. “The parents wanted to get back together to be a family and raise the kids together.”

A hearing will continue Thursday before Johnson on what should happen to the 17-year-old, who will turn 18 at the end of the month. Under state law, the teen would be considered an adult and could leave the care of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, which runs the state’s foster care programs.

Child-welfare officials seized the 17-year-old in November, Fisk said.

Since a Sept. 20 raid on Alamo’s Fouke compound, state officials have seized 36 children associated with the jailed evangelist’s ministries. An initial court order seeking children from Alamo ministries in Fort Smith and Fouke offered names and possible addresses of 126 children, said Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the state’s Human Services department. However, she acknowledged that number was only an estimate.

“It’s speculative because of the secretive nature within the ministry itself,” Munsell said.

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.” The minister, who has said “consent is puberty” when it comes to sex with young girls, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Fisk said the court appointed her to represent the father after the 17-year-old boy entered state custody. The father, who works at a manufacturing plant in Fort Smith, had remained in contact with his children though separated from their mother, Fisk said.

“He did not know that any abuse was occurring,” the lawyer said.

The father will have visits Thursday with his five sons and the couple should receive regular visitation rights through the state, Fisk said.

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.

Though incarcerated, Alamo has been able to make telephone calls to followers. The ministry’s Web site features a new tract titled “To Secular Judges and Everyone You Have a Great Responsibility Before God,” with Alamo telling the story about a federal judge who he says died of cancer after trying to get Alamo’s cancer-stricken wife Susan to testify in a previous court case. She died in 1982.

“I’m offering this merciful message to all judges, prosecuting attorneys, and people that work in the government. Don’t let your
power go to your head, but judge righteous judgment,” the tract reads. “Do what the Lord says to do. Be kind to people. We are all part of the human race and we are going to reap what we sow.”

In: 2000-2007

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