Evangelist Convicted on 10 Counts of Sex Abuse

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 24, 2009 12:23 PM CDT
Evangelist Tony Alamo, left, is escorted from the Federal Court House in Texarkana, Ark., after a day of jury deliberations in his trial Thursday, July 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
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(Newser) – Tony Alamo, a one-time street preacher who became an outfitter to the stars and fought the federal government over claims he underpaid followers for church work, was convicted today in Arkansas of taking five girls across state lines for sex. The jury of nine men and three women found Alamo guilty of transporting girls as young as 9, in violation of a nearly century-old federal law.

Women ranging from age 17 to 33 told jurors that Alamo "married" them in private ceremonies while they were minors, sometimes giving them wedding rings. Each detailed trips beyond Arkansas' borders for Alamo's sexual gratification. Alamo, 74, never testified. His lawyers argued that the girls traveled for legitimate church business. The evangelist could spend the rest of his life in prison.