Anti-gay church raided in child porn case

Anti-gay church raided in child porn case

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Fouke, Arkansas: Six minors have been temporarily placed in state custody as part of a child porn investigation after a raid on a ministry run by a man who says “consent is puberty” when it comes to sex, officials said Sunday.

The children will be in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services as investigators interview them, state police spokesman Bill Sadler said in a statement.

Sadler didn’t say how long the interviews would last, but did say that courts would decide the children’s status in the event of any “long-term separation” from the property of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in rural Fouke.

He did not say how old the children were, but an email that authorities inadvertently sent to media members last week referred to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old girls.


The move comes after a raid Saturday by more than 100 federal and state authorities. Investigators said their two-year probe into allegations of child pornography and abuse focused on convicted tax evader Tony Alamo and his ministry, described by its critics as a cult.

Alamo claimed in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Saturday that the investigation was part of a federal push to legalize same-sex marriage while outlawing polygamy. He also said for girls having sex, “consent is puberty.”

News of the raid brought Anthony Justin Lane, 34, into Fouke from his job roofing in nearby Texarkana, hoping for some word about his family.

Lane said he has been trying for 10 years to reunite with his children, who belong to Alamo’s ministry. Lane said he saw a 13-year-old girl marry a man of about 40 just before he was kicked out of the church for asking too many questions.

Lane hired a lawyer and said that he is trying to subpoena his wife, but that it remains difficult as she moves among Alamo’s churches in Arkansas and California.

Lane said he last saw his oldest daughter, Ashley, who would now be 13, in 2005. She offered him a pamphlet as he sat in his car reading a newspaper outside Alamo’s church in Fort Smith in 2005. When Lane told her he was her father, he said, she ran off.

He has received only a few photos since then of Ashley, daughter Sarah, 11, and son Timothy, 9, from a relative. His longtime girlfriend was pregnant with Timothy when he said he was expelled from the church for questioning their practices.

“I see pictures of those kids and I feel robbed - robbed of being a father,” Lane told reporters.

“I keep laying it in the Lord’s hands and hoping he’ll have mercy on my children and protect them,” he said.

Authorities’ search of the Fouke complex ended after midnight Saturday, and Sadler said officials had no plans to search the buildings again. Authorities have not indicated any plans to search other ministry locations.

By The Associated Press

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