2/12/09 – Judge Says Some Alamo Parents Noncompliant

Texarkana Gazette
February 12, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Miller County judge says some Alamo parents noncompliant

A Miller County circuit judge found varying levels of compliance with earlier court orders in a custody review hearing concerning two families whose children were removed from Tony Alamo Christian Ministries properties last year.

The parents of a 16-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy have made the least progress toward reunification with their children, Circuit Judge Jim Hudson said Wednesday.

“There was a finding that (the mother) used an appalling lack of judgment when she distributed her daughter’s video nationwide,” Hudson said, referring to a videotape of a girl being questioned at the Child Advocacy Center. “The foster mother described the daughter. She said that when she heard her voice on television she cried and turned the television off.”

Hudson said the parents have not complied with other conditions he previously said they must meet to bring their kids home from foster care, including the severing of residential, employment and financial ties with the church. Neither parent has undergone a psychological evaluation as directed, either, Hudson said.

That family won’t be back to court for another review hearing for six months, Hudson said.

Juveniles in the second family include a 14-year-old girl and two boys, ages 10 and 12.

Their father continues to reside on church property though his efforts appear to be improving, Hudson said. The father hasn’t acquired outside employment, still depends on the ministry and hasn’t been psychologically evaluated.

The children’s mother left the church years ago. She has acquired a residence near the foster home where her children are living, is gainfully employed, has been psychologically evaluated and is participating in parenting classes.

Hudson scheduled that family to return to court in three months.

The mother in the latter case may be allowed some unsupervised visits with her children at the next hearing, Hudson indicated.

He also addressed the Alamo-following parents’ requests to have the State of Arkansas fund their appeals of his earlier ruling that left their children in the custody of the state.

Hudson previously found the parents are partially indigent and appointed the Arkansas Public Defender Commission to act as their appellate attorneys. But the commission asked the judge to reconsider his ruling that the parents are unable to pay for lawyers on their own.

Hudson denied the commission’s motion for reconsideration Wednesday.

“Tony Alamo almost completely provides all living expenses—room and board, legal expenses—sometimes,” Hudson said. “The commission couldn’t prove they (the parents) had control over those funds.”

Hudson said the tight time frame for appeals in custody cases was a consideration in his finding that the church members were entitled to attorneys at state expense.

So far, 36 children whose parents follow the teachings of Tony Alamo have been placed in state care. Their removals were prompted by allegations of abuse, both physical and sexual, and of medical and educational neglect.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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