1/8/09 – Judge reschedules Alamo’s trial for May 11, 2009

The Associated Press
January 8, 2009

Judge delays start of evangelist Alamo’s trial

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday delayed the trial of jailed evangelist Tony Alamo on charges he took young girls across state lines for sex.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes reset Alamo’s trial to begin on May 11. The trial had been scheduled to begin on Feb. 2, but Alamo’s lawyer John Wesley Hall Jr. objected to the start date, saying he needed more time to prepare.

Prosecutors had argued that federal law requires cases involving child witnesses to be expedited.

Alamo, 74, has denied all accusations in the 10-count federal indictment he faces. The pastor remains held without bond pending trial.

A total of 36 juveniles linked to Alamo’s organization have been taken by state Department of Human Services officials since a Sept. 20 raid on the ministry’s Fouke compound.

Also Thursday, another judge ordered two of Alamo’s followers to attempt to get back a video of their daughter’s interview with a state child welfare official.

The girl, who was seized in the raid, defends Alamo in the video, which has been available on the Internet for weeks. The girl’s mother told Miller County Circuit Judge Jim Hudson she knew it would be widely distributed when she gave it to Tom Friess, who posted the video online.

Hudson ordered the parents to contact Friess and to try to recover a copy of the video they sent to President George W. Bush. They also must supply the court with documents that illustrate their efforts.

The Associated Press is not naming the parents in order to protect the privacy of their children.

The girl’s mother said she knew nothing about five other videos of interviews with seized children that were sent anonymously to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which posted them online with the children’s faces obscured.

Arkansas Department of Human Services officials have gone to court to try to pre-empt any further disclosure of videos that are supposed to be confidential. DHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell said no action would be taken against the Democrat-Gazette or Google, where the original video appeared.

After the hearing, the girl’s mother said authorities have conducted repeated interviews with the children.

“They’ve been pumping them, trying to get information against our pastor,” the woman said. “It’s all about Tony Alamo.”

Alamo is accused of transporting juveniles across state lines for sexual purposes. Numerous witnesses at hearings have said Alamo would take young girls as his wives.

Alamo denies inappropriate contact with juveniles but says he’s an advocate of girls marrying when they reach puberty.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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