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Sex convictions of Alamo upheld
LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals court upheld the criminal convictions of Tony Alamo on Thursday, finding that the 76-year-old evangelist took underage girls across state lines with the primary purpose of sexually exploiting them.
Jurors convicted Alamo last year on 10 counts of violating the Mann Act, a century-old law originally aimed at stopping women from being sold into prostitution. Prosecutors said Alamo traveled the country with his young “wives,” including one who testified that she was 8 years old when she was forced to enter a “spiritual marriage” with the preacher.
A federal judge had handed down a 175-year prison sentence, which Alamo is serving in a prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
Alamo — born Bernie Lazar Hoffman — disputed the charges and argued that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove his guilt.
Prop 8 judge refuses to recuse
A federal appellate judge said Thursday he will not step down from the Proposition 8 trial, which begins Monday.
“I have not hesitated to recuse from cases in the past when doing so was warranted by the circumstances,” but in this case, “I will be able to rule impartially … and I will do so,” said Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Dec. 1, backers of the voter-passed Prop 8 amendment, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and reversed a California Supreme Court ruling declaring gay marriage a right, asked Judge Reinhardt to disqualify himself because his wife, Ramona Ripston, is the longtime executive director of the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Moreover, they said, federal law requires judges to recuse themselves if their spouses would be affected by the outcome of a case.
Judge Reinhardt promised he would file a memo “in due course” about his reasons for not stepping aside. The hearing before the three-judge panel is scheduled for Monday in San Francisco.
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