13 Feb 2009

Alamo-Member Parents Denied Custody Again

The Morning News - N.W. Arkansas
February 12, 2009

by Associated Press

TEXARKANA -- A judge presiding over some of the custody cases involving families linked to Tony Alamo Christian Ministries is keeping two sets of children in state custody.

Circuit Judge Jim Hudson said Wednesday the parents of a 16-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy hurt their effort to get their children back when the mother allowed video of a state worker's interview with her daughter to be posted on the Internet.

"There was a finding that (the mother) used an appalling lack of judgment when she distributed her daughter's video nationwide," Hudson said images of the girl being questioned at the Child Advocacy Center.

The video was also aired on TV, and Hudson said the release directly hurt the teenager.

"The foster mother described the daughter. She said that when she (the girl) heard her voice on television she cried and turned the television off," Hudson said.

Hudson said the parents have not complied with other conditions he'd set for them to have their children released from foster care. Hudson has told the parents to cut residential, employment and financial ties with Alamo's ministry. He also directed them to get psychological evaluations, which they have not done, Hudson noted.

Hudson said the family would have another review hearing in six months.

Alamo is jailed without bond, awaiting a federal trial on charges he brought five underage girls across state lines for sex.

Thirty-six children of Alamo-member families have been taken into state custody, and about 100 more are being sought. Testimony in hearings related to Alamo's charges and in custody-related proceedings has detailed alleged sexual and physical abuse of some juveniles within the group. Officials also allege the children were subject to medical and educational neglect.

Regarding the second family, Hudson said the parents have made some progress in meeting his terms to regain custody of a 14-year-old girl and two boys, ages 10 and 12, in foster care.

Hudson said the father continues to live on church property, he hasn't found a job outside the ministry and still depends on Alamo's organization. The father hasn't gotten a mental evaluation, Hudson said.

The mother of the children left Alamo's group years ago. She lives near the foster home where the children are, has a job and is taking parenting classes. The judge said the mother has had a mental evaluation.

Hudson scheduled a hearing in three months to evaluate the parents' progress.

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