Lawyer: Alamo ordered punitive fasts over slights

Associated Press/November 26, 2008

Evangelist Tony Alamo ordered adults and teens at his compounds to obey "coffee and water" fasts for days at a time when he couldn't find the member who violated the church's rules, a lawyer suing the jailed church leader said Wednesday.

W. David Carter has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two men who told police Alamo ordered them beaten over perceived slights and offenses at his compound in southwestern Arkansas. The lawsuit by Carter, a lawyer from Texarkana, Texas, asks for more than $75,000 for damages "in the form of physical pain and suffering, emotional distress and scarring/disfigurement."

Carter said he hopes those leaving the ministry will consider joining the suit against Alamo, who faces criminal charges for allegedly taking minors across state lines for sex.

Carter filed the suit Tuesday on behalf of Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondirsek, two men who grew up in the church's compound in Fouke. Both have offered statements to the police about Alamo, including details about beatings they suffered at the hands of his alleged enforcer John Erwin Kolbeck. Kolbeck faces a battery charge over the allegations and is wanted on federal and state felony warrants.

Carter said he has spoken with another former ministry member who told him the fasts came anytime Alamo couldn't immediately identify a person who broke church rules.

Alamo was convicted of tax-related charges in 1994 and served four years in prison after the IRS said he owed the government $7.9 million. He is scheduled to stand trial on the new federal charges in February.

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