Judge orders $500K for each of preacher’s victims

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TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge says five young women abused by evangelist Tony Alamo (uh-LAH-moe) while they were minors are each entitled to a half-million dollars for physical and mental pain they suffered.

The 75-year-old was convicted last year of taking underage girls across state lines for sex and was sentenced to 175 years. A federal judge Wednesday ordered restitution for the five, who are now aged 17-33.

A defense lawyer said Alamo shouldn’t have to pay anything.

A pediatrician testified the women suffer chronic back pain, persistent menstrual cramps and depression. Prosecutors sought $2.7 million for each woman.

The government says it is confident Alamo has the money, but that it might be spread among business ventures held in the names of his followers.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — A government witness said Wednesday that the five young woman who testified last year that evangelist Tony Alamo took them as a “wife” and sexually abused them as minors should receive $2.7 million each for physical and mental pain suffered.

Federal prosecutors are seeking restitution from Alamo, who was sentenced last year to 175 years in prison for taking young girls across state lines for sex.

Dr. Sharon Cooper, a developmental and forensic pediatrician, said the women continue to suffer chronic back pain because they were forced to give Alamo massages every night while they were kept at his compound near Fouke in southwestern Arkansas. Each woman, now aged 17-33, also suffers persistent and painful menstrual cramps associated with sexual abuse, Cooper said.

Alamo, shackled at the ankles as he sat at the defense table, scowled and sighed during Cooper’s testimony. His lawyers will cross-examine the government witness later Wednesday.

Alamo’s ministry is said to be worth millions, but many of its affiliated businesses are held in his followers’ names.

At last year’s trial, the women testified that Alamo kept firm control over everything at his complex. Cooper said his five victims were undereducated — none had a high school diploma — and all lacked insurance.

“Without treatment, they will struggle mightily,” Cooper said.

The 75-year-old pastor presides over a church that claims 100-200 members. Trucking companies, residential property and a number of other ventures fund the ministry’s work, including a printing operation that prints church paraphernalia that blames the government or the Vatican — or both — for his and the world’s problems.

Alamo once owned a Nashville, Tenn., clothing store that catered to celebrities desiring his elaborately decorated jean jackets. His home at Dyer included a heart-shaped swimming pool, but followers who lived on the grounds kept sleeping bags in meeting rooms.

At a bond hearing in 2008, an FBI agent said businesses produce a “substantial amount” of income controlled by Alamo but that none of the property shows up in the minister’s name — though he couldn’t provide an estimate of Alamo’s worth.

In the 1990s, Alamo spent four years in prison for tax evasion and the IRS laid claim to millions of dollars in back taxes. Among items sold at auction were the plans for the studded jacket Michael Jackson wore on his “Bad” album.

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