1/31/09 – In Court: Bond set for man accused in beating

Texarkana Gazette
January 31, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

In Court: Bond set for man accused in beating
Alamo follower still in jail

A man accused in the beating of an 11-year-old boy on Tony Alamo Christian Ministries property in California more than 20 years ago remains behind bars after a court appearance Friday.

Douglas James Christopher, whose real name is Matthew Allen Rehn, told a judge in Santa Clarita, Calif., that he wanted time to find his own lawyer, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

His bond is set at $100,000.

The accused church member, who previously entered a not guilty plea to two counts of felony child abuse, will return to court next month for a pretrial hearing in San Fernando Valley, Robison said.

Christopher is alleged to have been one of three men who held one of 11-year-old Justin Miller’s limbs as another follower struck him 140 times with a wooden paddle before an audience of adults and children in January 1988.

Months after the beating, child welfare officials in California removed the boy, a sibling and a cousin from their mothers, who were Alamo followers, and placed them with their fathers, who had left the ministry several years before.

The family was awarded more than $1 million in a civil suit in the Western District of Arkansas by U.S. District Judge Morris Arnold.

Six people, including Alamo, were criminally charged in connection with Justin’s beating.

Charges against Alamo were dismissed when he was sentenced to federal prison for tax evasion. The 74-year-old allegedly directed the beating via speakerphone from a nearby building after other followers reported Justin for wearing a leather scarf without permission and belching in a prayer room, according to previous news reports.

Alamo currently occupies a jail cell in downtown Texarkana awaiting a May trial on a 10-count federal indictment alleging he transported young girls across state lines for sex.

When witnesses to the beating couldn’t be found in 2007, the charges were dropped against Terry Farr, the follower who allegedly wielded the paddle that left Justin bleeding.

Bench warrants are still outstanding for Justin’s mother, Carol Miller Landgarten, and stepfather, Marc Landgarten, Robison said.

Authorities still haven’t determined what the status of the charges are against a sixth individual, Kerry Younkin.

Christopher, 55, turned himself in last week after officials with the Arkansas Department of Human Services encouraged him to do so. DHS is involved with Christopher because the agency took custody of his children in early December.

Christopher’s kids were among six who all have the same mother, who was located in Indiana. The father of the other three children, Anthony Lane, had been searching for them for more than 10 years.

In Miller County, 30 children have been placed in foster care following custody hearings. Circuit Judges Jim Hudson and Joe Griffin ruled the children were in danger of being physically and sexually abused and their educational and medical needs had been neglected.

Thursday, Sebastian County Circuit Judge Mark Hewett began custody proceedings regarding the six children assigned to his court.

DHS Communications Director Julie Munsell said Hewett issued a strict gag order preventing anyone who was a party to the hearings from discussing what transpired.

“I don’t even know if they’re still in our custody,” Munsell said.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

| Back to Top |
Want to help?

Click the button!

One Post

  1. Anthony Lane Says:

    With the sincerest of heart I think we should all pray for Lesia and Douglas. I hope DHS and I are not being fooled but it seems they have realised they were fooled by Alamo and his gang. Let us pray for them in prayer and in hope that they will stay away from the cult when this is all over.
    Let us also pray that the Lord will give them a happy life here in the free world. One good thing we cannot deny about Lesia and Douglas is unlike the rest of the gang, they have put there kids first through all this .

Post A Comment

Please note: All comments are moderated. There is no need to resubmit your comment. Please submit a well thought out post with proper punctuation and spelling, so that it can be reviewed and posted promptly (as space allows).

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.