Thursday, January 15, 2009

Arkansas Authorities Still Seeking Children From Tony Alamo Ministries

As previously reported, after federal authorities raided the Arkansas compound of Tony Alamo Ministries, Arkansas human services officials began to take a number of children of Alamo's followers into custody. AP reported yesterday that court orders have been issued to take up to 100 children into protective custody, but that Alamo followers have routinely moved the children to churches in other states to evade Arkansas authorities. So far 36 children have been taken into custody, and the father of one of these children has been jailed for contempt when he refused to disclose the location of his other two children. Alamo is charged with taking girls across state lines for purposes of sex. He denies the charges, saying he has acted legally, but does believe that females should be married at puberty to avoid living in sin.

Meanwhile, according to yesterday's Conway (AR) Cabin, Miller County (AR) Circuit Judge Joe Griffin placed a gag order on developments at a custody hearing for 23 children taken from the Ministry. The order was issued after the media gained access to videotapes of interviews of some of the children who had been taken into custody. Alamo Ministries has posted transcripts of September interviews with four girls.