8 new sex charges against evangelist Tony Alamo unsealed
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday December 3, 2008
Number of sex charges against Alamo grows by eight
An indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses evangelist Tony Alamo of eight more counts of transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes over the past 14 years, including at least one violation that occurred while Alamo was completing a prison sentence at a halfway house in Texarkana.
The original indictment against the 74-year-old leader of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, a multistate ministry with headquarters in southwest Arkansas, accused him of transporting a girl across state lines in 2004 and 2005. The new charges, contained in a superseding indictment handed up by a grand jury Nov. 19, add eight counts involving four more girls from 1994 through 2005.
A court clerk entered a note in the court record last week disclosing that the new indictment had been handed up, but it remained under seal until Tuesday, when U. S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant entered an order accepting Alamo’s plea of innocent to the charges. Alamo entered the plea through his attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock, in a court filing last week.
On Tuesday, Hall said the charges are “more of the same stuff, and we’ll defend it the same way.” “It’s all just the same kind of stuff put out by the anti-Alamo groups,” Hall said.
Debbie Groom, a spokesman for U. S. Attorney Bob Balfe of the Western District of Arkansas, declined to comment on the added charges.
Alamo, who is being held in the jail annex of the Bi-State Justice Center in Texarkana, Texas, was arrested in Arizona on Sept. 25, five days after federal and state authorities raided his compound in Fouke and took six girls into protective custody. Those girls are now in foster care, and none of them are alleged to have been sexually abused. Authorities took 20 other children into protective custody Nov. 18 during a sweep of Alamo-controlled properties in Fouke, Texarkana and Fort Smith.
Both the original indictment, handed down Oct. 1, and the superseding indictment list the alleged victims as Jane Does and say only that they were younger than 18 when the offenses occurred.
Hall has said the charges in the original indictment accuse Alamo of having sex with a girl during a trip from Arkansas to California in 2004, when she was 13, and during a trip from California to Arkansas in 2005, when she was 14. He said authorities haven’t provided him any information on the new charges except for the indictment itself.
Judge unseals Alamo papers: 5 alleged victims accuse church leader of abuse
Federal court documents unsealed Tuesday in evangelist Tony Alamo’s criminal case allege sexual misconduct with girls as young as 8.
Five alleged victims are described in court documents that accuse Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to bring a minor across state lines for sex.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant unsealed a “superseding indictment” and six other previously sealed documents Monday.
“Juvenile #1 told me that on May 17, 2000, when she was only about nine years old, she and Alamo exchanged wedding vows,” according to a search warrant affidavit .
The document describes inappropriate touching of “juvenile #1” in Fouke, Ark., by Alamo that began when she was only 8. After their “wedding” when she was 9, Alamo allegedly engaged in conduct with the girl that would constitute rape under Arkansas law.
Juvenile #1 is now 17, according to the documents.
“Juvenile #2 was only 11 years old on March 27, 2003, when she was ‘married’ to Alamo,” the affidavit said.
In either January or February of 2006, “juvenile #2” was allegedly taken on a trip with Alamo from Fouke to California, according to the affidavit.
“Juvenile #2 stated that while en route to California, Alamo had sexual intercourse with her while on the bus,” documents said. “One night Alamo called juvenile #2 into his room at the motel (in California) for ‘massage duty’ and … Alamo had sexual intercourse with her.”
The third juvenile mentioned in the affidavit alleges sexual abuse by Alamo at the age of 12.
A confidential source is mentioned in the search warrant affidavit that enabled members of the FBI to search Alamo’s Fouke, Ark., properties Sept. 20.
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