FOUKE, Ark. – 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 e-mail 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 Saturday that the investigation was part of a federal push to legalize same-sex marriage while outlawing polygamy. He also said that for girls the age of “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.