Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

TOP STORY > >Preacher’s jail ministry is real

By GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader editor-in-chief

It doesn’t look like Tony Alamo, the self-styled evangelist and accused child molester, will be home for the holidays.

Alamo is in a Texarkana jail, awaiting trial for transporting underage girls across state lines for immoral purposes.

Facing multiple rape and abuse charges, Alamo, 74, could end up spending the rest of his life behind bars, although that wouldn’t be so bad, since he could then run his outreach program for inmates without leaving the prison compound.

Talk about close to home.

Alamo is no stranger to prisons as he served four years for tax evasion in the 1990s.

He’s been floundering ever since his wife, Susan, passed away back in the 1980s. They both exploited their followers for decades, through their Susan and Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, which started out in Los Angeles and in 1975 moved to western Arkansas, where land was cheap and labor was free.

They made their followers work for room and board, and it looks like many of them have been sexually and physically abused.

He admits only that he’s known several young women in the biblical sense who have become his wives, and he should not be prosecuted for his religious beliefs.

Alamo is also charged with beating youngsters at his compound in Fouke in Miller County. It was there that authorities last summer removed several children and placed them in state custody after receiving disturbing reports that they were abused by
Alamo and his henchmen.

Alamo fled before he could be arrested, but the aging Lothario was soon caught at a motel in Flagstaff, Ariz., with an underage girl, although he has bragged about several other conquests, claiming all along that his motives have been purely religious because, as he told a judge last week, the Bible has instructed him to marry young girls.

Tony has been “married” — in his mind, anyway — several times and seems to have trouble remembering the names of all his “wives,” which could be his best defense strategy: He’s getting old and forgetful and should be let go because of mental incompetence.

If anybody can get Tony Alamo off the hook and out of jail, it’s his ace criminal attorney, John Wesley Hall of Little Rock, who has been telling the media his client is just an ordinary guy who has taken on several young wives, although not simultaneously, because the Bible told him to.

But if a jury doesn’t buy into that argument, it’s the Big House into his 80s for the disgraced preacher. And no conjugal visits.