A judge on Wednesday granted a request by seven former members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries to drop their legal claims against six people and four organizations affiliated with the ministry.
The former members, including six women who say they were taken as “wives” by the church’s leader, Tony Alamo, at young ages, say in the lawsuit that church members failed to protect them from Alamo’s sexual and physical abuse.
Alamo, 78, was convicted of taking five of the women across state lines for sex while they were underage in violation of the federal Mann Act. He was sentenced in 2009 to 175 years in prison.
The seventh former member says she was groomed to become one of Alamo’s wives but escaped before the marriage could take place.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2010 in U.S. District Court in Texarkana. Alamo was added as a defendant in November of last year.
At the request of the former members, U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey on Wednesday dismissed their claims againstSally Demoulin, Tommy Scarcello, Donn Wolf, Steve Lovellette, Ron Decker and Sonny Brubach.
She also granted the former members’ request to dismiss claims against the Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation, Music Square Church, SJ Distributing and Rite Way Roofing.
W. David Carter of Texarkana, Texas, an attorney for the former members, said the request was an attempt at “streamlining” the case.
“From our view, we can go ahead and try the case without [the defendants’] presence,” Carter said.
The defendants remain in the case, however, because other defendants have filed claims against them.
The judge’s order “doesn’t do them any good,” said attorney John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock, who represents Alamo and several other defendants.
The dismissal was “without prejudice,” meaning the former members can refile the claims later.
The former members’ claims remain pending against Alamo, along with six people identified as church members and several church-related organizations.
Northwest Arkansas, Pages 10 on 10/26/2012