Child Porn Investigation Leads to Alamo Ministry Raid

Tod Hunter
FOUKE, Ark. — A child pornography investigation led to a raid on the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in rural Fouke, Ark., Saturday.

Six minors have been temporarily placed in custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services as investigators interview them, according to a spokesman for the state police. In the event of any “long-term separation” from the property of the ministry, courts will decide the children’s status.

Sadler did not say how long the interviews would last or how old the children were, but an email message that was mistakenly sent to news organizations last week referred to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old girls.

The Saturday raid involved more than 100 federal and state law enforcement agents. Investigators said their two-year inquiry into accusations of child abuse and pornography focused on a convicted tax evader, Tony Alamo, and his ministry, described by its critics as a cult. The search of the Fouke complex ended after midnight Saturday. Officials reportedly have no plans to search the buildings again and have not indicated any plans to search other ministry locations.

Alamo was quoted on Saturday as saying that the investigation was part of a federal push to legalize same-sex marriage while outlawing polygamy. He also said for girls having sex, “consent is puberty.”

Alamo and his wife Susan were street preachers in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles in 1966 before forming a commune near Saugus, Calif. After Susan Alamo died of cancer in 1982, Alamo claimed she would be resurrected and kept her body on display for six months while their followers prayed.

Alamo was convicted of tax-related charges in 1994 after the Internal Revenue Service said he owed the government $7.9 million and served four years in prison.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups, describes Alamo’s ministry as a cult that opposes homosexuality, Catholicism and the government.

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