Texarkana - The last of five reported victims of evangelist Tony Alamo took the stand Friday, telling jurors that she was married to him at age 11 and had sex with him on a bus during a trip from Arkansas to California.
The girl, now 17 and living in Colorado, said she was "terrified" of Alamo. At his home in Fouke (Miller County), where she lived with Alamo and his other wives, the girl said she would try to keep herself busy, making sure she was always holding a baby or a pile of dirty dish towels when she walked by Alamo in the office adjoining his bedroom.
"I knew if I had something, there was less of a possibility that he would call me into his room," the petite girl with brown, shoulder-length hair testified. "I just did whatever I could to stay away from him."
The girl testified during the fifth day of Alamo's trial in U.S. District Court in Texarkana on charges that he took five underage girls, all of whom say they were his wives, across state lines for sex from March 1994 through October 2005. Alamo claims the trips were for church business, not for sex.
During the trial, the four other reported victims have testified that they exchanged vows with Alamo at ages ranging from 8 to 15 and lived under his strict control in Fouke. All of the reported victims left the ministry in 2006 except for the one who testified Friday, who said she left in 2007.
Friday also included the cross-examination of a woman, now 18, who said she married Alamo at age 8, and testimony from a former church member who said she watched as one of her younger friends, then one of her daughter's friends, went to live with Alamo. Alamo's defense team is expected to call its first witness Monday.
Alamo, 74, dozed off a few times Friday during the proceedings, sometimes with his head back against his chair and his mouth open. During the 17-year-old's testimony, one of his attorneys nudged him to wake him up.
The 17-year-old held her hand to her chin as she described how she went to live in Alamo's house at age 11, joining a few other girls who lived at the house but had not been claimed as one of his wives. One day, Alamo told the girls that God had told him to take "a couple more" wives, she said. Later, she said, she had a nightmare about becoming one of the wives and word of her dream got to Alamo.
"He said that was of the Lord," the girl testified.
On March 27, 2003, the girl said, she and Alamo, then 68, exchanged vows in his bedroom, and he began touching her genitalia.
"He said that we were married, and that's what people did when they were married," the girl testified. "When I would try to stop him or tell him I didn't want him to do it, he would threaten me and said he would get the other sisters to come in there and read scriptures to me."
Soon, Alamo was having sex with her, the girl testified.
"He said things like, I look really innocent to him," the girl testified. "He said I had the body of a 6-year-old, and he was attracted to my innocence."
Two of the 10 counts in the indictment refer to trips the girl took with Alamo. During a trip from Arkansas to California in September 2004, while the girl was 13, she said Alamo had sex with her in a locked bedroom in the back of his bus while several of his other wives rode in the main passenger compartment. At another point during the journey, the group made a stop at a tourist destination - the Alamo in San Antonio.
The other trip was in 2005, when ministry members took the girl and other wives from a group of ministry bungalows in Saugus, Calif., to Fouke.
The girl testified that after Alamo heard that the police had been questioning the girl's father, he moved her to an apartment in California so she wouldn't be found by authorities. She eventually left the ministry in 2007, she said.