A jury in Arkansas convicted evangelist Tony Alamo on Friday of 10 federal counts of taking minors across state lines for sex, according to the court in the Western District in Arkansas.
Authorities in September charged Alamo, the 74-year-old founder and leader of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, and raided his 15-acre compound near Texarkana, Arkansas. Jurors reached the verdict after more than eight hours of deliberations. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Between March 1994 and October 2005, Alamo transported five girls younger than 18 across state lines for sex, according to the indictment. The criminal complaint included accounts from three of the girls, two of whom were 17 when the complaint was filed last year and one who was 14. All three said Alamo sexually abused them. Alamo, whose real name is Bernie Hoffman, had denied all wrongdoing. In a phone interview last year with CNN, he called the accusations a hoax.
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Read the indictment (pdf)
Read the verdict slip (pdf)
Read the complaint (pdf)
“They’re just trying to make our church look evil … by saying I’m a pornographer. Saying that I rape little children. … I love children. I don’t abuse them. Never have. Never will.” Asked why authorities were searching the property, Alamo compared himself to Christ. “Why were they after Jesus,” he asked. “It’s the same reason. Jesus is living within me.” Alamo also has compounds in Oklahoma and New Jersey. The Southern Poverty Law Center says Tony Alamo Christian Ministries is anti-Catholic and a cult.