TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) – 175-years in jail. That's the ruling handed down by a federal judge late Friday morning, November 13th, against convicted sex offender and former evangelist Tony Alamo.
Both inside and outside the federal court house sympathy was in short supply. U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes handed down the maximum sentence allowed, becoming a de facto life sentence for the 75-year old religious leader in ill health.
Shouting a question from afar I asked, "what's it like to be known as a sexual deviant?" "Jesus was falsely accused also," answered a smiling Alamo without missing a beat. He remained defiant to the end, even as authorities escorted Alamo out the back of the court house in Texarkana, Arkansas once the sentencing hearing ended.
Demonstrators cheered as authorities drove off to return Alamo to the Bi-State Justice Center and the annex where he'll be held another two months, until his restitution hearing takes place on January 13th to deal with his $250-thousand fine.
Then, Judge Barnes said Alamo will be taken to a federal prison medical facility, possibly the one in Springfield, Missouri, before final placement in the system is determined.
Back in July, prosecutors argued successfully to the jury that Alamo transported girls over state lines, not to teach them about the bible, but for sex. "Oh praise the lord. I was praying, praying for that," Rev. Doyle House said, referring to the 175-year sentence.
Rev. House added that Alamo's crimes were even more despicable considering he committed them in the name of religion. "And me being a preacher, it just bothers me because some people get the impression that every preacher is the same way. But, we're not all that way, thank the Lord."
One hand-painted sign outside may have said it all: "You (Alamo) reaped what you sowed - no mercy" perhaps referring to his five so-called child-brides he took from 1994 to 2005 ranging in age from 8-to 16 years old.
Three of the girls returned to testify at this sentencing hearing. Local demonstrator Kristen Potts spoke of the girls as she walked down the court house steps to our awaiting microphone, telling us, "very impressed. Very happy. Finally they've, these girls have finally got justice. Justice has been served."
We caught up with defense attorney Phillip Kuhn as he began to leave. He said of Alamo: "He's hired some very competent lawyers to represent him on appeal, Mr. Hall and Mr. Irving, and we're confident that he has a valid appeal."