- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2009

TEXARKANA, Ark. | (AP) A woman who said evangelist Tony Alamo “married” her at age 8 told federal jurors Thursday that he sexually assaulted her repeatedly until she escaped his compound in late 2006.

The woman, now 18, said Mr. Alamo groped her at age 8. She said Mr. Alamo began having sex with her when she was a 9-year-old third-grader who weighed only 98 pounds.

Mr. Alamo took explicit photographs of her that year with an instant camera and, on looking at them, called her a “whore.” She said she didn’t understand the term but that Mr. Alamo told her it was a good thing.

Mr. Alamo, 74, is named in a 10-count indictment claiming he took young girls across state lines for sex.

Also Thursday, a woman who noted in her Bible the first time she had sex with Mr. Alamo, at age 14, told jurors that she was married to the flamboyant pastor that year in a prison visiting room.

The woman, initially from Oklahoma, said Mr. Alamo fondled her after they exchanged vows at a federal prison in Texarkana, Texas, but that a closed-circuit television system failed to catch him.

“We would lean in really close to each other so the camera wouldn’t see,” she said, crying.

The woman, now 25, said she was among many female followers of Mr. Alamo who visited him while he served a four-year prison sentence for tax evasion.

Defense lawyers say the government has targeted the ministry, and Mr. Alamo has said the trial is part of a Vatican-led conspiracy against him. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors showed jurors a page from the woman’s Bible with the notation “Holy Matrimony” and the date they first had sex, July 17, 1998, 11 days after Mr. Alamo, then 63, left federal prison for a halfway house.

In her testimony, the woman said her mother was an Alamo follower who, at his direction, sent her to his compound in southwestern Arkansas after she fell into trouble at home. Her offense: revealing that her brother liked another girl in the ministry.

The woman said she traveled with Mr. Alamo to Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 2000, when she was 16, and had sex with him during the trip.

She was the third former child bride of Mr. Alamo’s to testify to having sex with him below the age of 18. A woman from Texas, now 33, said on the witness stand earlier Thursday that the minister made light of taking a young girl on the road as a wife and sex partner.

“It was a joke in the house that she was underage,” she said. “It was a flaunting that he could get away with this.”

The Texas woman said Mr. Alamo ran her husband out of the church and took her as another of his brides. She told jurors that, while sexually assaulting her the night of their marriage, Mr. Alamo screamed out: “The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is against you, Satan.” She was 17 then; Mr. Alamo was age 59.

She said she didn’t contact authorities for years because Mr. Alamo taught his followers that the government justice system was evil.

“This was the courtroom of Satan and we were in the courtroom of God” with Mr. Alamo, she told jurors.

If convicted, Mr. Alamo faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the 10 counts against him. He is being held without bond.

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