1/8/09 – Kolbek’s absence creates difficulties in civil lawsuit

Texarkana Gazette
January 8, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Kolbek’s absence creates difficulties in civil lawsuit

There may be some changes made in a civil lawsuit if a fugitive associate of local evangelist Tony Alamo’s isn’t found within the next few months.

A Texarkana lawyer who filed a civil suit naming him as a defendant may be forced to ask the court for permission to proceed without him.

Attorney David Carter filed the suit in November on behalf of two 18-year-old former church members. Alamo and John Kolbek are named as defendants.

“Since Kolbek is in hiding we have been unable to serve him with suit papers,” said Carter of the Texarkana firm Mercy, Tidwell & Carter. “Under the law we have only a limited time to serve him with the summons issued when we filed the complaint. We will be filing a motion asking the court for additional time to serve him.”

When a civil complaint is filed, the plaintiff has 120 days to give notice to the defendants.

“If he hasn’t been captured after a few months, we will ask the court for permission to serve him by alternative means, most likely through publication in one or more newspapers,” Carter said. “If the court approves this request, and Kolbek doesn’t timely respond to the complaint, we will have the option of asking the court to enter a default judgment against him.”

In that event, the court could take steps to have property or assets Kolbek owns liquidated for the payment of damages.

Kolbek, 49, is wanted on a second-degree battery charge issued by authorities in Sebastian County several months ago for the alleged beating of one of the plaintiffs, Seth Calagna. A warrant for unlawful flight from prosecution exists for Kolbek at the federal level.

Alamo is accused of frequently ordering Kolbek to beat church members with a 6-foot-long wooden paddle handcrafted by another follower for the delivery of “corrections.” Adults and children were disciplined in this way, according to court documents and testimony offered in various hearings.

Spencer Ondrisek and Calagna are asking the court to award them damages. Both claim to have been struck repeatedly in the face and buttocks until bloody and scarred, forced to go without food and made to labor unpaid.

Alamo’s defense attorney has filed a response to the civil complaint denying the allegations and claiming some language in the suit violates the incarcerated pastor’s constitutionally guaranteed right to practice his religion.

The suit was filed in the Texarkana division of the Western District of Arkansas, the same court in which Alamo’s criminal case is pending.

The 74-year-old Alamo is accused of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to bring young girls across state lines for sex. He is being held in a downtown Texarkana jail.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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