Judge extends deadline to find Tony Alamo’s alleged enforcer

Lawyer has 90 days to find alleged Alamo enforcer

LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge has given a lawyer who filed a civil lawsuit against Tony Alamo 90 days to find a man alleged to have worked as an enforcer for the jailed evangelist.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes issued an order Wednesday setting the deadline for finding John Erwin Kolbeck.

The lawsuit by Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondrisek names Kolbeck and Alamo as defendants. The suit claims the two suffered beatings and abuse as teenagers in the church by Kolbeck on Alamo’s orders. The two are seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
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– Source: Lawyer has 90 days to find alleged Alamo enforcer, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Mar. 18, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Teens given longer time to serve suit

A judge’s ruling Wednesday gives two teenagers an extra three months to find the man they say beat them while they were members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and serve him with a copy of their lawsuit.

But the teenagers’ attorney, W. David Carter of Texarkana, Texas, said he doesn’t expect to wait that long to move forward with the lawsuit, which seeks damages against the ministry’s leader, Tony Alamo, and John Kolbeck, whom authorities have identified as Alamo’s “enforcer.”

If he can’t find Kolbeck in the next month, Carter said, he’ll ask U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes for permission to serve Kolbeck by publishing a notice of the lawsuit in newspapers in Texarkana and Fort Smith. Kolbeck would have 30 days after the notice is published to respond or risk having a judgment entered for the teenagers by default.

“Since he’s on the run and not going to show himself, apparently, voluntarily, that’s typically the best way to get reasonable notice to them that they’ve been sued,” Carter said.

In the lawsuit, Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, who were both 18 when the suit was filed in November, say Kolbeck, 49, beat them with a board, at the direction of Alamo, on multiple occasions while they were in the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in Fouke and Fort Smith. Both teenagers left the ministry last year.

Kolbeck is wanted on a second-degree battery charge in a beating that police say Calagna received at a ministry warehouse in Fort Smith last year and on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is being sought by the FBI, Fort Smith police and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Under federal court rules, the teenagers had until March 25 to serve Kolbeck with the suit. In January, Carter asked the judge for the deadline to be extended by four months, saying the teenagers hoped Kolbeck “will be apprehended by law enforcement officials during that time and will be available for personal service of process.”

In an order Wednesday, Barnes extended the deadline, but by a month less than Carter had requested.
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– Source: Teens given longer time to serve suit, Andy Davis, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via NWAnews.com, Mar. 19, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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Lawyer: Evangelist Tony Alamo was too old and weak to have committed sex crimes

New lawyer signals new strategy in Alamo case

LITTLE ROCK, Arkanas — California lawyer Danny Davis has wanted to separate jailed evangelist Tony Alamo from the abuse allegations that trail his ministry.

“There is a man and there is the myth,” Davis said. “He has become a myth in the character of this monstrous felony accusation.”

That’s what Davis told The Los Angeles Times in 1991 while representing Alamo in a child-abuse case that never went to trial. Now, almost 20 years later, the Beverly Hills lawyer apparently will defend the aging evangelist against federal charges that could leave him behind bars until his death.

Alamo’s choice of Davis means the evangelist likely wants to attack the credibility of witnesses who will claim the evangelist took young girls across the state lines for sex.

Davis is best known for his work as a defense lawyer in the McMartin Pre-School molestation trial, one of the nation’s longest-running and costliest criminal trials. Defending preschool worker Raymond Buckey, Davis focused on discounting the alleged victims’ bizarre accounts of animal mutilation, blood drinking and underground tunnels running through the day-care center.

A jury acquitted Buckey of 40 charges, but deadlocked over 13 others. Prosecutors refiled eight charges against Buckey and a jury deadlocked in a second trial. Prosecutors declined to charge him a third time.

In Alamo’s case, Davis will have to contend with allegations that the preacher “married” two young girls and sexually molested them, on top of claims that he took pictures of the girls naked.
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– Source: New lawyer signals new strategy in Alamo case, AP via the Log Cabin Democrat, Mar. 17, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Lawyer: Evangelist too weak, old for sex crimes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. —  The new defense lawyer for jailed evangelist Tony Alamo said Thursday that his client’s poor eyesight and diminishing physique would have made it impossible for him to have had sex with underage girls, as federal prosecutors claim.

California lawyer Danny Davis told The Associated Press that “it would be physically impossible” for the 74-year-old man to have sex with girls in showers and buses – accusations lodged by authorities who arrested Alamo on Sept. 25.
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Davis recently took over Alamo’s defense from Little Rock lawyer John Wesley Hall Jr. Davis said Alamo worried that Hall’s busy practice might prevent him from focusing on his case.

Davis also represented Alamo in 1991, when the evangelist was accused of child abuse in California stemming from a 1988 beating of an 11-year-old boy at an Alamo compound north of Los Angeles. The case didn’t go to trial after Alamo went to federal prison over tax evasion charges.
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– Source: Lawyer: Evangelist too weak, old for sex crimes, jon Gambrell, AP via the Miami Herald, Mar. 19, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Surrounding the Alamo ministries

After a bullet hit one of the church windows, Tony Alamo Ministries hired a security company to watch for possible troublemakers. But concern has grown among Fouke residents about why armed security guards with R&G Securities has stopped vehicles from driving onto South Circle Drive and the property of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. [Read more...]