The following are transcripts of excerpts from interviews conducted by Arkansas Department of Human Services caseworkers with four of the six girls taken into custody during a Sept. 20, 2008, raid of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Fouke by Human Services and law enforcement officials. Videos of the interviews, conducted Sept. 21 at the Children's Advocacy Center in Texarkana, were sent anonymously to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Interview with a 10-year-old girl
Child: ...Boys can't be around girls and girls can't be around boys.
Interviewer: Ok, all right. Explain that to me.
C: Because Tony [Alamo] said. With one of my friends, I asked him why I can't be around boys and he said because the devil can get in and tell us to like have, I forgot the word. It's ... um ... be bad or something like that, and that's why the pastor .... knows that the devil can get into us too, you know. Be bad and that's what some girls do in the world today, but not in (unintelligible) Christ though. But so, that's why.
I: OK, and what do they mean by being bad?
C: Flirting with each other.
I: Flirting with each other?
C: But ... um... what does (another child at the compound) mean? Well I don't ... I don't really know. I asked her that and she's like ...she's, her face gets red and she's ...
I: You asked (the child) what?
C: I, I asked her why, what you just asked me, and she, her face gets red, and she doesn't tell me...
C: ... My sister, too. She doesn't tell me.
i: Ok. So you asked them what being bad is, and they wouldn't tell you. Is that what you mean?
i: OK. And what do you mean by flirting?
C: Like ...
i: Are you hot?
i: What would be ...
C: (unintelligible) a little bit?
I: We'll open that in a little bit, OK? What would be an example of flirting?
C: Um, I don't know. I ... I know what flirting is, but I don't know how to explain it really.
I: Can you give me an example?
C: Like, what's really an example?
I: Umm, something that would be flirting? Something that ...
C: Like looking at each other and smiling at each other.
I: OK, so if you look at a boy or a boy looks at a girl, and they smile at each other that would be flirting? OK. Do you ever see people flirting?
C: Not in our church.
I: Not in our church? OK. Do you ever see it anywhere else?
C: Oh, not really.
I: Not really? OK. Has anybody ever flirted with you?
I: No? OK. And who was it that told you about the flirting?
C: (Another child at the compound).
I: (The child)? OK, all right. So boys aren't allowed to be around the girls at all?
I: When are they allowed to be around each other?
C: Mmm, when they get married I guess.
I: When they get married? OK, and what happens when they get married?
C: They go, like, if there's a extra house around, which there's like two, they go live in there.
I: OK, and how does the marriage process work?
C: I don't really know what a process is.
I: Um, how do they, how do they get to the point of being married? What happens for them to get married?
C: Umm, either the woman or the guy asks the pastor if ... um ... they can get married. If he says yes, ... then they can, if he says no then they can't.
I: Ok, all right. Um, do you have to be a certain age, or anything like that?
C: Yeah, I think you have to be 18.
I: OK. Eighteen to what? Get married or to ...
I: ...ask to be married or...
C: Get married.
I: To get married? OK. Um, and what if the girl doesn't want to marry the boy or the boy doesn't want to marry the girl?
C: Then she says no.
IA: And then what hap...
C: And the boy doesn't get what he wants.
I: And then what happens?
C: Then he ... sometimes he gets mad, and then he just leaves the church.
C: Or she, whichever one (unintelligible).
I: Has anybody ever talked to you about getting married?
C: I'm too little.
I: You're too little?
C: I'm only 10.
I: OK. Have you heard anybody else talk about wanting to get married?
C: Um, mm-mm, none of my sisters or anything.
C: They wouldn't talk about it in front of me anyways.
I: Why not?
C: I don't know, I guess they think I have a big mouth or something.
I: They think you're a big-mouth? Why's that?
C: Some of my sisters do.
I: Why do they think that?
C: 'Cause I guess they think that I'm gonna go tell my friends or something.
I: Oh, OK.
C: (unintelligible) like that. (unintelligible)
I: Ok. Is there something that they wouldn't want you to tell about?
C: I don't know. Just that there was some girl in the church that always talked about boys, not in front of me but I knew they talked about boys, 'cause I heard them saying their names and stuff.
I: What boys were they talking about?
C: Like (a boy at the compound) and um, like (another boy at the compound), um, that's all, I guess.
I: What do they say about them?
C: I don't really know, I just hear them saying the names.
I: Just whispering about them?
I: OK, all right.