July 25, 2009 in Nation/World

Jury convicts pastor who ‘wed’ young girls

Associated Press
 

TEXARKANA, Ark. – Tony Alamo, a one-time street preacher who built a multimillion-dollar ministry and became an outfitter of the stars, was convicted Friday of taking girls as young as 9 across state lines for sex.

Alamo stood silently as the verdict was read, a contrast to his occasional mutterings during testimony. His five victims sat looking forward in the gallery. One, a woman he “married” at age 8, wiped away a tear.

“I’m just another one of the prophets that went to jail for the gospel,” Alamo called to reporters afterward as he was escorted to a waiting U.S. marshal’s vehicle.

Shouts of “Bye, bye, Bernie” – Alamo was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman – came from a crowd gathered on the Arkansas side of the courthouse. Some came from Fouke, the nearby town where Alamo’s 15-acre compound sits. Others were former followers of his ministries in Arkansas, California and New York.

The jury of nine men and three women took about 11 hours to consider the charges against Alamo. The 10-count federal indictment accused him of taking his underage “wives” across state lines as early as 1994.

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