Hearings set for girls taken from Alamo compound

Associated Press/September 25, 2008

Fouke, Arkansas - Hearings will begin tomorrow on whether the state can keep temporary custody of 6 girls taken from the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound after a federal raid.

Circuit Court Judge Jim Hudson says probable-cause hearings for 2 of the girls will be held tomorrow. The remaining four hearings will be on Monday.

Officials say the girls, ranging in age from 10 to 17, all have been identified through police investigation and birth certificates.

State and federal agents raided Alamo's Fouke compound Saturday night, searching for evidence that children there had been molested or filmed having sex. FBI officials say federal agents are investigating Alamo for possible violations of the Mann Act - meaning children may have been taken across state lines for criminal purposes.

Alamo, who has denied the allegations, has not been arrested.

The six hearings will be split among three circuit judges serving Miller County. Judges will decide whether the state had enough evidence to warrant temporarily removing the children from their homes. If a judge rules against the state, the girl would be returned to her parents.

Hudson says all hearings, testimony and documents will be sealed because the cases involve juveniles.

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