Child welfare officials show up at Tony Alamo compound in California; Arkansas officials seize 6 more children

[Update to earlier items, posted below]

No raid at Alamo compound

Contrary to earlier reports the FBI didn’t raid the Tony Alamo‘s Saugus compound Wednesday morning, an FBI spokeswoman said.

“The FBI did not coordinate or participate in Wednesday morning’s activity at the Alamo compound,” said Laura Eimiller, Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman.

The Los Angeles Department of Family and Children Services visited the Alamo compound in Saugus accompanied by Santa Clarita Sheriff’s deputies Wednesday morning on what child services officials called a referrals- based visit, said Laura Grasmehr, DCFS spokeswoman.

“There were no kids living there and no one was taken into custody,” Grasmehr said.
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Child and family services officials spent Wednesday clearing up earlier reports that the FBI was involved in what some media outlets characterized as a raid.

“It wasn’t a raid. We don’t raid compounds,” Grasmehr said. Law enforcement accompanied DCFS to provide protections for child welfare employees, she said.

A federal judge in Arkansas unsealed court documents from the federal investigation Tuesday. The FBI wouldn’t comment on the contents of the documents, but said it may have prompted child services to search the compound, Eimiller said.

Grasmehr said she didn’t know if documents released Tuesday played any role in the decision to search the compound. Grasmehr also did not know what was in the documents, she said.

Arkansas child welfare officials seized six more children Wednesday from the ministries of an evangelist accused of sexual abuse.
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- Source: No raid at Alamo compound, Brian Charles, The Signal (California, USA), Dec. 3, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Evangelist faces federal charges that he took children across state lines for sex.

LITTLE ROCK, CA (AP) — FBI agents and child welfare officials on Wednesday visited a Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound just outside of Los Angeles, officials said.

Louise Grasmehr, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, told The Associated Press that officials likely went to the compound in Santa Clarita at the request of federal agents. Grasmehr said no children were taken into state custody.

“Whenever the FBI or law enforcement have suspicion or knows there might be children present, they take us,” she said.

An FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles did not immediately return a call for comment. Steve Frazier, a spokesman for the FBI’s Little Rock field office, declined to comment.

Alamo, 74, faces federal charges in Arkansas that he took children across state lines for sex.
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Since establishing his ministries in Arkansas, Alamo has been a controversial and flamboyant figure, with former President Clinton once likening him to “Roy Orbison on speed.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, describes the ministry as a cult that rails against homosexuals, Roman Catholics and the government.
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- Source: FBI shows up at Alamo compound in California, AP via the San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 3, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Arkansas officials seize 6 Alamo compound children

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Arkansas child welfare officials seized six more children Wednesday from the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries as authorities in California visited another church compound, officials said.

Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, declined to say where or how the children were taken into state custody.

“I believe they are all in general good health, just like the others were,” Munsell told The Associated Press.

With Wednesday’s operation, state officials have seized 32 children associated with the jailed evangelist’s ministries over stories of alleged beatings and sexual abuse. Alamo, 74, faces federal charges in Arkansas that he took children across state lines for sex.

In California, child welfare officials accompanied FBI agents who went to ministry’s compound in Santa Clarita, said Louise Grasmehr, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Grasmehr said no children were taken into state custody during the Wednesday morning visit.
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- Source: Arkansas officials seize 6 Alamo compound children, Jon Gambrell, AP via the Monterey Herald, Dec. 3, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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