Tony Alamo’s lawyer filed a motion earlier this month asking a federal judge to reduce a $66 million judgment awarded by a jury in June to two former followers.
On Monday, Texarkana lawyer David Carter filed a response on behalf of Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna opposing a court order awarding anything less than the $33 million the jury awarded each man at the end of the trial.
The motions are pending before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant in the Texarkana division of the Western District of Arkansas.
Alamo’s lawyer, Little Rock attorney John Wesley Hall Jr., argues that the amount is based on prejudice and passion, not the facts, and isn’t fair in light of orders in other proceedings.
But Carter argues that Hall is minimizing the harm suffered by Ondrisek and Calagna, two men who were raised in Alamo’s controversial ministry. The jury found Alamo was guilty of false imprisonment, battery and outrage. The men were forced into unpaid labor, denied an education and lived in fear of Alamo-directed beatings.
Hall argues in his motion that the size of the award in the men’s case against Alamo is unfair when compared to the $1.5 million each John Kolbek was ordered to pay the men. Kolbek, who was Alamo’s enforcer, died on a rural Kentucky farm earlier this year. He was a fugitive wanted by state and federal authorities at the time of his death.
“As this court is well aware, John Kolbek administered physical beatings to plaintiffs on six occasions, and at the direction of Alamo. His conduct pales in comparison to that of Alamo, who has orchestrated systematic and ritualistic abuse of his followers for at least two generations,” Carter’s motion states. “Masquerading as a ‘prophet of God,’ Alamo created and oversaw the systematic abuse of his followers and their children. Much of that abuse, including the ritualistic beatings and taking of underage ‘brides’ was geared towards satisfying Alamo’s own need for personal gratification.”
Alamo is currently serving a 175-year federal prison sentence at a federal lockup in Terre Haute, Ind. He was convicted in July 2009 of all 10 counts listed in a federal indictment accusing him of bringing five women he’d wed as children across state lines for sex.
Carter’s motion describes the men’s childhoods as a “voiceless hell” in which they could not even turn to their own parents for protection.
Carter’s motion points to an order issued by a federal judge more than two decades ago concerning the brutal and public beating of a 12-year-old boy at Alamo’s direction on church property in Saugus, Calif. The boy and his family were awarded more than $1 million for their suffering in 1990.
“Alamo was warned … that the ritualistic abuse of children was unacceptable and could not be tolerated in a civilized society,” Carter wrote. “But nothing changed.”