1/16/09 – Another Alamo parent jailed for contempt

Texarkana Gazette
January 16, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Another Alamo parent jailed for contempt

Another follower of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries was jailed Thursday when she refused to disclose the whereabouts of three of her children to a Miller County circuit judge.

“Unfortunately the court was forced to place another parent in jail for contempt for a willful violation of a court order,” Circuit Judge Joe Griffin said. “I gave the person the opportunity to purge the contempt. She declined and I said, ‘You don’t leave me any choice.’”

On Tuesday, Griffin jailed a father who continues to withhold the location of two of his three children. The children are believed to be with their mother, who has been absent from custody hearings this week. One of the couple’s children has been placed in state care.

The woman arrested Thursday will remain in jail indefinitely unless she reveals the location of three of her six children. The other three are already in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. They are among 23 for whom custody hearings began this week.

Griffin ruled Thursday that four of the 23 children would remain in state care. Those children had sisters whose cases were decided in November by Griffin and Circuit Judge Jim Hudson.

The adjudication orders approved by the judges in the cases of the six girls removed in September and remanded to state care in November were used as evidence that their siblings should be found in need of continued foster care as well, Griffin said.

In the adjudication orders, allegations of beatings, forced fasts, sexual abuse, underage marriages, polygamy, medical neglect and educational neglect were found to be true.

Wanted posters featuring a photograph of fugitive John Kolbek, Alamo’s alleged enforcer, have been taped to the doors of the Miller County Juvenile Court Center.

Parents must sever economic, residential and employment ties with the ministry if they desire reunification with their children. As of Thursday, only five families were waiting to learn whether their children will come home or remain in state custody.

Griffin will continue to hear testimony today regarding the cases of the 19 remaining children. He said he expects all of the children’s parents to testify in the hearings that will likely continue into next week.

Thursday morning, before the custody hearings resumed, Griffin addressed a request from the two sets of parents, whose daughters were ordered into state care in November, for court-appointed appellate lawyers.

Griffin said he found the parents were partially indigent and eligible to receive legal assistance from the Arkansas Public Defender Commission in their quests to overturn Griffin’s November ruling.

The parents will be required to reimburse the commission for at least some of the expense, Griffin said.

The commission has asked Hudson to reconsider a similar order issued from his court concerning appeals on behalf of the parents of two of the girls removed in September.

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