Seven women, all former members of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday in state court in Miller County, Ark., seeking damages for suffering they endured under imprisoned evangelist Tony Alamo’s control.
Five of the women were listed as victims in Alamo’s criminal case. In 2009, he was convicted of bringing them as children across state lines for sex and later sentenced to 175 years in federal prison. One of the women escaped from Alamo’s house while being groomed to become a wife in Alamo’s polygamous house. The seventh woman remained loyal to Alamo until after he was sentenced to prison and alleges she wed Alamo at age 12.
Alamo’s youngest “spiritual wife” was 8 at the time of her marriage to Alamo, according to testimony at Alamo’s criminal trial.
Named as defendants in the suit filed on behalf of the women by Texarkana lawyer David Carter and Irving, Texas, lawyer Neil Smith, are Tony Alamo, Jeanne Estates Apartments and Twenty First Century Holiness Tabernacle Church, one of the names used by Alamo for his church and business enterprises.
The suit seeks damages for sexual, physical and psychological abuses suffered by the women. Alamo is guilty of orchestrating and carrying out much of the abuse, the complaint states. The other defendants were complicit in that abuses occurred on the properties or were ignored by Alamo followers who should have acted to protect the women.
A similar suit recently was dismissed by a federal judge after a finding that the claims of federal law violations could not stand. The judge declined to make final rulings on violations of state law, leaving open the option of taking the complaint to a state court.
The suit alleges negligence, negligent entrustment, negligent hiring, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, defamation, joint venture/enterprise liability, battery and outrage. The plaintiffs are asking the court to award them actual and punitive damages. The case has been assigned to 8th Circuit Judge Brent Haltom.
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