12/23/08 – Alamo lawyer: Plaintiffs’ reports are irrelevant, prejudicial

Texarkana Gazette
December 23, 2008
By: Lynn LaRowe

Alamo lawyer: Plaintiffs’ reports are irrelevant, prejudicial
Hall wants statements removed from civil lawsuit

Tony Alamo’s attorney says statements in a civil lawsuit involving the controversial church leader and his alleged enforcer are “irrelevant and prejudicial” and included to “stigmatize the defendant.” Little Rock lawyer John Wesley Hall Jr. wants the wording removed.

“The complaint has ‘immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter’ … which may not even be admissible at trial should plaintiffs try to prove them,” states a motion to strike prejudicial matter filed Thursday on Alamo’s behalf. . “They can only be in the complaint to stigmatize the defendant.”

The suit, filed last month by Texarkana lawyer David Carter for Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, names Bernie LaZar Hoffman, Alamo’s real name, and his alleged enforcer, John Kolbek, as defendants.

Ondrisek and Calagna, both 18-year-old former followers, allege they were beaten by Kolbek at Alamo’s direction with a 6-foot wooden paddle until they were bruised and bleeding.

Hall took issue with statements in the complaint such as “Defendant … is the founder and self-professed ‘world pastor’ of what is now known as ‘Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.’ Alamo’s theology is known for its virulent paranoia and anti-Catholicism views. Alamo claims the Vatican controls the American White House, the United Nations and the media.”

“What possible relevance is this to any of the allegations in the complaint?” wrote Hall in the motion to strike.

Hall’s recent filing describes the wording as “irrelevant and prejudicial.”

References in the complaint to time Alamo has served in federal prison and a pending federal criminal indictment for alleged Mann Act violations should also be stricken, Hall argues.

Alamo is accused of bringing at least five young girls across state lines for sex dating back to 1994.

Carter disagrees with Hall’s requests for certain passages to be removed.

“The motion to strike certain allegations is interesting. Mr. Alamo doesn’t deny the allegations are true. He simply wants them stricken from the complaint. We believe the references to Mr. Alamo’s teachings, public statements and criminal convictions are appropriate background to provide the court in this case. Carter said.

“This isn’t a car accident case. This suit alleges a longtime pattern of abusive and outrageous conduct against church members, including children. Our judge will ultimately decide what evidence will and will not be presented to the jury in this case.”

Alamo is in a cell in an annex behind the Bi-State Justice Building in downtown Texarkana. He is set to be tried in February in the Western District of Arkansas.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant denied pretrial release for Alamo, citing a risk of flight and an ongoing threat to the public.

Kolbek is a wanted man.

A second-degree battery warrant issued by officials in Sebastian County, Ark., where Alamo’s ministries owns property in Fort Smith has been active for several months in connection with Calagna’s alleged beating.

Kolbek, at Alamo’s behest, allegedly used his fists to bloody Calagna’s face before repeatedly striking him with the handcrafted paddle in a Fort Smith warehouse, according to court documents.

The civil suit alleges battery, false imprisonment, outrage and conspiracy as causes of action for which a jury should be able to award damages.

Hall filed a motion to dismiss the conspiracy count Sunday.

Hall’s motion argues that Arkansas law doesn’t allow conspiracy to be named as a separate count.

Carter said he plans to to offer sufficient evidence of conspiracy at trial.

“I agree that civil conspiracy is not, in and of itself, a cause of action. But if the jury finds the defendants engaged in a conspiracy, they will both be liable for damages which result from carrying out that conspiracy,” Carter said.

In: 2000-2007

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