1/30/09 – Judge to determine if Alamo follower [Douglas Christopher] can be held for trial

Texarkana Gazette
January 30, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Judge to determine if Alamo follower can be held for trial
55-year-old faces two child abuse charges

Today a judge in California will decide if enough probable cause exists to hold a man with ties to Tony Alamo Christian Ministries until he can be tried on 21-year-old child abuse charges.

Simultaneously, a judge in Fort Smith, Ark., will begin custody proceedings concerning the man’s children.

Douglas James Christopher, whose real name authorities believe is Allen Matthew Rehn, turned himself in Jan. 20 at a courthouse in Santa Clarita, California. Christopher’s three children are among six taken by child welfare officials in Indiana in early December. All of the children have the same mother.

The father of the other three youthes is Anthony Lane, a former church member who has searched for his kids for more than 10 years. Lane is allowed weekly supervised visits.

Involvement with child welfare officials in Arkansas concerning his own children led Christopher to surrender. His bail has been set at $100,000.

The 55-year-old faces two counts of felony child abuse stemming from the 1988 beating of Justin Miller on church property near the Saugus community of Santa Clarita, Calif.

Christopher is accused of being one of four men who held Justin’s limbs while a fifth church member allegedly wielded a long paddle that left the 11-year-old bruised and bleeding.

Tony Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, was once charged in connection with the case. The 74-year old was alleged to have directed the beating via speakerphone from a nearby building as a large group of adults and children watched. Charges against Alamo were dismissed after he was sentenced to serve time in a federal prison for tax evasion, according to a 1995 Los Angeles Times report.

Besides Alamo and Christopher, four others were charged in connection with Justin’s 1988 beating.

Marc Landgarten, Kerry Younkin, Terry Farr and the boy’s mother, Carol Miller, faced child abuse charges as well. Landgarten and Miller were tried.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is researching the outcome of the case, said spokeswoman Jane Robison, who indicated the status of the charges against the other co-defendants continue to be investigated.

Farr allegedly delivered the blows while the others helped hold the boy during the beating.

Justin, a sibling and a cousin were removed from the home months after the beating and placed in the custody of their fathers who had left the ministry several years before, according to earlier news reports.

A federal judge in the Western District of Arkansas awarded Justin and his family more than $1 million for their suffering.

“Plaintiffs assert that Mr. Alamo put on ‘public exhibitions of corporal punishment, in the form of paddling, upon minor children,’ and the proof amply showed that Justin Miller, while being restrained by four adult men, was struck vigorously 140 times with a large wooden paddle by a grown man … This punishment was inflicted in a room filled with adults and children and was not only painful (Justin’s buttocks were bleeding) but humiliating in the extreme. One of the adult witnesses, indeed one of the principal participants, was Justin’s mother,” wrote then U.S. District Judge Morris Arnold, who awarded the family damages. “No feeling person could fail to be moved by the testimony in this case or to be revolted by the cold-blooded and calculated manner in which the punishment of Justin Miller was carried out.”

Alamo was recently named as a defendant in another federal civil suit.

Two 18-year-old former followers, Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, are seeking damages for beatings they claim to have suffered while living on Alamo properties in Ark. The suit accuses the evangelist of directing 6-foot 4-inch John Kolbek to beat them in a manner similar to that described in the Justin Miller case.

Kolbek is a wanted man. He is wanted by officials in Sebastian County for second-degree battery in connection with Calagna’s alleged beating and by federal authorities for unlawful flight from prosecution.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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2 Posts

  1. PACA Says:

    These proceedings about Douglas Christopher make me wonder if there is another motive to this arrest. Are they truly trying this case because the evidence is just now falling into place or because of what’s going on in Arkansas. The subject of the Miller beating keeps coming up in the news? Maybe California authorities think it makes them look bad to have never gone after these adults responsible for this abuse before now. I say hit them with everything they legally can go after them for. But I do hate the aspect of bringing all this up again for the Miller family.

  2. Child Advocate Says:

    What I want to know is why it took so long to get this guy and why did he change his name in the first place?

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