Former Evangelist Convicted of Sexual Exploitation Offenses
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 24, 2009|
TEXARKANA, AR—Bernie Hoffman, aka Tony Alamo, founder and leader of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, age 74, was convicted today by a jury in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas, of charges that he transported minor girls across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity that would be a violation of state law, in violation of Title 18 U.S. C. Section 2423. The jury found Alamo guilty on all 10 counts of the federal indictment, announced Deborah Groom, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, and Thomas J. Browne, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The guilty verdict followed six days of testimony during which women testified Alamo had sexual relations with them while they were underage, and that they traveled across state lines with Alamo or at his request for the purpose of his having sexual relations with them. United States District Court Judge Harry F. Barnes presided over the trial.
Speaking of today's conviction, Acting United States Attorney, Deborah Groom, stated: “The United States Attorney's Office appreciates the jury's attention to the evidence presented in this case. We also wish to commend and extend gratitude to the agents of the FBI and the Arkansas State Police, who partnered in the investigation, for the dedication they exhibited throughout the investigation and prosecution. It is important that victims of child exploitation have the forum and opportunity to come forward, so that justice may be served.”
Special Agent in Charge Thomas Browne of the Little Rock Office of the FBI added: “This investigation has focused on the victims of crime. The young women who have come forward have been incredibly courageous. This investigation also highlights excellent cooperation by the Arkansas State Police, United States Attorney's Office, and the FBI.”
Colonel Winford Phillips, Director of the Arkansas State Police also added: “The outcome of this case should serve to send a chilling message to those who would prey upon the lives of young children. We're prepared, no matter how long it takes, to investigate and track down suspected child predators. I commend our department's special agents and those of the FBI who devoted untold hours to uphold a fundamental commitment that we have to protect the children of this state.”
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled by the court after a pre-sentence investigation is completed. Alamo can be sentenced to serve up to 30 years in prison on counts one, two, and ten of the indictment. He faces up to 15 years on counts three, four, and six, and up to 10 years imprisonment on counts five, seven, eight, and nine. Fines up to $250,000 on each count may be ordered. Alamo will continue to be held without bond.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims of abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Assistant United States Attorneys, Kyra Jenner, Candace Taylor and Clay Fowlkes prosecuted the case for the United States.