US evangelist resfuses to testify in child sex crimes trial

Evangelist Tony Alamo placed his fate in a federal jury's hands in Arkansas yesterday, choosing not to testify on his own behalf at a trial over charges that he took five young girls across state lines for sex.

The flamboyant minister's legal team rested its case after persuading Alamo that he should not directly challenge testimony that said he "married" the girls while they were underage.



Alamo's lawyers and other defence witnesses said girls travelled for legitimate church business.



US District Judge Harry F. Barnes began delivering jury instructions in advance of closing arguments. Jurors could get the case ON Wednesday afternoon.



Alamo, 74, is named in a 10-count indictment alleging violations of the Mann Act, a century-old law that banned the transportation of underage girls for immoral purposes. State and federal agents raided Alamo's compound last Sept. 20 after growing alarmed at reports of abuse.



Defence lawyers have said the government targeted Alamo because it doesn't like his apocalyptic brand of Christianity.



Alamo has blamed the Vatican for his legal troubles, which include a four-year prison term for tax evasion in the 1990s.



Women ranging from age 17 to 33 told jurors that Alamo "married" them in private ceremonies while they were minors, sometimes giving them wedding rings.



Each detailed trips beyond Arkansas' borders for Alamo's sexual gratification.



With no physical evidence, prosecutors relied on the women's stories to paint an emotional portrait of a charismatic religious leader who controlled every aspect of his subjects' lives. No one obtained food, clothing or transportation without him knowing about it.



"He had control over everything," said a 30-year-old woman from Florida who left the compound after objecting to Alamo's taking an 8-year-old "bride."



At times, men were ordered away from the compound and their spouses kept as another Alamo wife. Minor offences from either gender drew beatings or starvation fasts.



"I felt the strength of the board. I felt it on my leg. I didn't like how it felt," said an 18-year-old who testified that Alamo "married" her at age 8.



The woman considered to be Alamo's common-law wife, Sharon Alamo, said she believed that wedding rings found in the compound were gifts to the ministry.



She said the girls were moved about the country as they worked for Alamo, who has 100-200 followers.



defence witnesses included two women whose currently underage children are being sought by Arkansas child-welfare officials. Neither testified about the children's whereabouts, citing their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.



Both were served state documents ordering them to surrender the children to the state, which has already removed 36 children from Alamo's compound at Fouke.



But the witness list didn't include Alamo, who at times since the raid has ranted against government agents, calling them anti-Christian, and since his ministry's beginnings in the 1960s has blamed the Vatican for his and the world's problems.



Barnes had ordered a short delay in the trial Wednesday so Alamo's lawyers could discuss with him whether he should testify. Alamo had told reporters he wants to speak with jurors directly, but his legal team has recommended against it.



Before jurors and lawyers arrived for court Wednesday, Alamo took off his tinted glasses for the first time in the courtroom and exchanged them for a pair of thick-glassed clear lenses in a black frame.



He wrote pages and pages of notes and when his defence team entered the room he began slapping the notepad as it rested on the table and told the lawyers, "Well, I am going to get up there."



In large block letters, he wrote "pornography," an apparent reference to child pornography listed in a search warrant for the Sept. 20 raid that was not found.



None has been offered at trial, but a witness said Alamo was "paranoid," used an instant camera to take nude pictures of at least one girl and often cut up photos into small pieces.



Each of the 10 counts against Alamo is punishable by 10 years in prison and a US$250,000 ($387,400) fine.



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor