Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, the Arkansas-based church that the Voice investigated earlier this year, was raided by federal authorities Friday night.
No arrests were made, but feds reportedly scoured the Arkansas compound where ex-members say Tony Alamo lives with at least eight “wives,” most of whom he married when they were still children. The raid was prompted by a child pornography investigation.
According to the Associated Press:
FOUKE, Ark. (AP) — 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.
Since the raid, Alamo, who is in California and has not been charged with any crime, has been giving some fairly nutty phone interviews, defending polygamy and his church while comparing himself to Jesus:
More here (including a phone interview in which Alamo says the charges against him are “as crazy as the allegations against Jesus”) and here. Meanwhile, Alamo’s devoted followers in New York and New Jersey, who run a couple businesses that fund Alamo’s bizarre empire, continue to fight their own legal battle. As we reported in May, members of Alamo’s New York/New Jersey branch stand accused of participating in the scheme to sell for profit thousands of high-end Tempur-Pedic mattresses that they were supposed to deliver to Hurricane Katrina survivors.