14-year-old tells court of Alamo’s touching
TEXARKANA — At a hearing on the custody status of two girls removed from Tony Alamo‘s religious compound in southwest Arkansas, a 14-yearold girl testified that Alamo had touched her inappropriately, and an 18-year-old man described beatings at the hands of another church member.
The girl told Miller County Circuit Court Judge Jim Hudson during the first day of a hearing to determine whether the two girls should remain in foster care that she was showering about two years ago when Alamo placed a hand over her mouth and began to touch her.
“He said don’t tell anybody what happened here or I’ll have John (Kolbeck) beat you and I’ll take care of you,” the girl said softly. “Nobody would’ve believed me, anyway. Everybody thinks he’s a prophet here.” The girls, along with four others, were removed from the compound in Fouke after a Sept. 20 raid by federal and state authorities investigating allegations that children at the compound had been physically and sexually abused.
The 14-year-old who testified Monday was not one of those who was removed, but an attorney with the Department of Human Services called her to testify to show that the girls were at risk in an environment where sexual and physical abuse was prevalent, Hudson said. Their parents are accused of failing to adequately protect and supervise them, he said.
“I would see him lie. He would get donations for ‘Arms Full of Help’ and then they’d sell the stuff,” the girl said. “I didn’t think he was a prophet.” The girl testified she worked in the Fouke office for six or more hours a day. Months-long gaps in her education were deemed necessary because she was needed to work, the girl said.
The girl said she was “kicked out” and made to live next door in the “green house” about two months after moving into Alamo’s house in Fouke.
“He calls it the house of scorn,” the girl said. “He puts us there when we do something wrong.” Fasting was another means of discipline Alamo would order, the girl said.
“We couldn’t have anything except some water or black coffee,” she said.
Being deprived of food for three to seven days was a common occurrence, the girl alleged.
The girls who lived in the main house, called the “schooling mission,” were either working so late into the night they resided there out of convenience or were among Alamo’s wives, said the young witness.
“They all wear wedding rings. They go into his room at night and close the door. They’re the only ones that do that,” the girl said.
She listed eight names, in cluding legally married Sharon Alamo, as being the “sisters in the house.” A Feb. 28 CD that contains denials of sexual and physical abuse by the witness, her sisters and other girls was coached, the girl said Monday.
“Tony told us what he was going to ask us and what we were supposed to say,” the girl testi fied.
The girl also described being beaten by John Kolbeck, Alamo’s alleged enforcer, as she was bent over a chair while being held down by his wife.
The 18-year-old, whom Hudson declined to identify, testified that he had been beaten by Kolbeck in the Fort Smith area. Authorities have said Kolbeck is wanted on charges of second-degree battery in the beating of a teenage church member at warehouse in Fort Smith earlier this year.
At the end of the hearing, which will continue Thursday, Hudson will decide whether the girls should stay in foster care, be placed with relatives or be returned to their parents, possibly with conditions.
A similar hearing for the other four girls — two pairs of sisters — will begin today before Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin.
Information for this article was contributed by Lynn LaRowe of the Texarkana Gazette