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 an 11-year-old girl
Interviewer: And you said (the girl's sister) decided to leave and go with your mom? Why did she decide to leave?
Girl: I don't know. I didn't talk to her, really. Before she left I didn't want to. She wanted to leave... I don't... well... well... I know that she was boy crazy or whatever.
Interviewer: You know she was boy crazy?
Girl: Yeah. She liked a bunch of different boys and so I guess she wanted to be with boys, I guess. I don't know. I mean, that's what I think about her but I didn't really ask her why's she leaving. That's what she wanted.
Interviewer: What makes you think that?
Girl: Because in the church she was just boy crazy.
Interviewer: How'd you know she was boy crazy?
Girl: Because she was my sister so I was like ... whatever. I liked one person, then went to the next person and whatever. (Unintelligible) You know, they don't really, like, really talk to each other but they... (unintelligible).
Interviewer: I don't understand.
Girl: Like with a person there, like an older person or an adult, he would let them like talk to see, like, if they were, like, how they were or whatever and that she didn't really, we don't really talk to boys and so but she would like one boy and go to the next and so I just knew that she was like that. I figured that was part of the reason she wanted to go out there cause she wanted to commit fornication.
Interviewer: Does she like one boy? Does she talk to him?
Interviewer: What would she...
Girl: She only did one but that was all.
Interviewer: Something she'd talked to a boy?
Girl: I don't really know 'cause I wasn't really there but she would just, I mean, what would happen was there was an adult, like two adults, that were there and they would just like see if they were like mature or goofy or whatever.
Interviewer: I don't understand. Um, if she liked a boy and you'd have to talk to somebody...
Girl: No, no. OK. OK I just knew that (her sister) was like boy crazy or whatever and she just liked a bunch of different boys and so, so she just, um, like talked to one but she didn't like, you can't, you know, just always talk... (unintelligible)... they just like got... somebody would be there and then they would just like, they would just like see, like, if they're, like, I don't know, goofy I guess.
Interviewer: To see if the... (the girl's sister) was goofy or the boy was goofy?
Girl: No. I don't really... I mean I don't really like explaining it... basically I can't explain it.
Interviewer: Who would decide if they're goofy?
Girl: I mean...
Interviewer: I just don't understand what the...
Girl: OK, she would just like... OK she would... OK how it'd work... Like she, OK, there would be like two adults there or something and then, and then she would like, they would like... (unintelligible)... They would just talk or something and then they would see, like OK, the person who she, like, would like talk to... She only did this like once and she would um... and they would see you for like how she was.
Interviewer: Who was it that she liked? That one time that she did like him.
Girl: She just, um, it was, it was like some other kid outside (unintelligible) and he left too. He's, um, what (unintelligible)...
Interviewer: The boy that she liked and then he left?
Interviewer: OK. But there was an adult there?
Girl: Yeah, there's like about two adults.
Interviewer: Two adults there? OK. And you said she wanted to commit fornication?
Girl: Yeah that's what I think she wanted to do. I mean 'cause...
Interviewer: What is that?
Girl: Like when she, when you're, like, not married and you go and commit, like, sex with a bunch of different boys.
Interviewer: When you're not married?
Girl: Yeah. You just go from, like, one person to commiting it with another person.
Interviewer: But it's OK if you're married, but not if... If you're not married, it's not OK?
Girl: Yeah. Like the Bible expects, it says.
Interviewer: OK. And you think she went to do that so she left?
Girl: (Shakes head, yes.)
Interviewer: OK. And how old is (the girl's sister)?
Girl: She's 14.
Interviewer: Well, um, but it would be OK if she was married?
Girl: Well, today the law says that you're not supposed to marry till you're 14, but you can't marry, the pastor won't let anybody marry till they're 18. But, um, the book of the Bible says that it's OK because we read the Bible, but we just can't do it because the Bible says if it, like, offends somebody then don't do it. We... they just have to wait till they're 18 but they just don't. But according to the Bible it is OK if they get married when they reach puberty, but today they can't, according to the government so I mean they just don't do it till they're 18, but believe that it's right.
Interviewer: That it's right but you don't do it?
Girl: I mean, there's nothing wrong with it. It's not like you have to, but we believe there's nothing wrong with it 'cause, you know, the Bible says.
Interviewer: OK. So the Bible says that you can get married when you reach puberty?
Girl: I mean, yeah because when Mary was 14, Mary was 10 when Jos... when she was married to Joseph and when she was engaged or got married to Joseph, so I mean, and she was the one who hung out with Jesus so... According to the Bible, we believe in the Bible that there's nothing wrong with it.
Interviewer: OK. When you say reach puberty, what do you mean?
Girl: Like when you start your period.
Interviewer: When you start your period? OK. So what age is that usually?
Girl: Um, usually like 12.
Interviewer: Usually 12? OK. Have you reached puberty?
Interviewer: OK. What about for boys? When can they get married?
Girl: When they... age. I mean, whenever. I don't know. I mean I know, but I don't know what it's called when they, I don't know. Usually around 13.
Interviewer: The boys get married when they're 13?
Girl: Oh well, there's nothing... the Bible says there's nothing wrong with it. Nobody, nobody thinks it's wrong around 13 or 14 but nobody does in the church because, you know I mean, 'cause you're not supposed to these days but I mean we believe there's nothing wrong with it, but nobody does it in the church.
Interviewer: Well if the girls are... if the girls and the boys are separate, they go to separate schools and they're not supposed to talk to each other, um, how do they know who to marry?
Girl: I don't know. They just, they just, they, I don't know. (Her sister) she just, she just thought, "oh he looked so nice" or something and i mean that's what she thought so that's why she just like started whatever, like, liking him or whatever but I mean, that's what, that's how she judged it. I don't know.
Interviewer: How would she see him?
Girl: They, I mean, I mean, if a boy comes around, it's not like you have to duck but I mean just walk past him. Like, I mean, like, or they'd maybe eat lunch or dinner at the cafeteria, like, we sit on one side and they sit on one side ...and then church, but that's all.
Interviewer: Were there ever any other boys that came to the mission?
Girl: Um, no.
Interviewer: There's like Pastor Tony. You said he lives there?
Girl: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: OK. That means that when your parents come to the mission - like if they had to bring somebody something or something, if they had to come for some reason...
Girl: Um, they just like, they go out and sit on, they just like um, if they need, like, to give something to the pastor or something they just, like, come to the door or something and then someone comes (unintelligible) to get it or something.
Interviewer: They just bring it to the door and his wife comes and gets it?
Interviewer: Do the parents come inside?
Girl: Oh, like the women do 'cause there's usually, he's not usually, if he... Pastor Alamo's not really there so there's usually, it's just, um, I, sometimes ... somebody stays there and like, like, um, (an adult) and she, um, she stays there usually and so they just like, she's usually there so I can come in there 'cause, you know, Pastor Alamo's not usually there all the time. But he does come, you know.
Interviewer: When they come and bring him something, his wife comes to the door?
Interviewer: Now who did he name his wife?
Girl: Sharon Alamo.
Interviewer: Um, when, when he's there at the house, does he ever, I mean, you said there's a TV there, do they ever come out and watch TV, or do they ever do anything?
Girl: Um, no. He (unintelligible) let him do it, like, he and his wife or something, they turn it on, and then, they, like, the people at the church they come over, watch a movie, or something.
Interviewer: The people at church?
Girl: Yeah. I mean, like, just like, um, like, sometimes the boys watch some one at church, they give one to them just for that night and they bring it back, TV. And then the girls, 'cause, you know, there's no... and there, whatever, they watch one, like, in the mission.
Interviewer: OK. Is it men and women that can come and do that?
Girl: Um, no. I mean, it's just, I mean like, the men watch 'em in the cafeteria, and the women watch it in the mission, 'cause, you know, there's no men there.
Interviewer: How come men can't come into the mission?
Girl: I mean, we just don't, it's mainly girls, and you know, they just don't really let them, I mean, like, girls and boys, you know, like, come together. And they don't like, let them, like, come to, and like, they talk, 'cause the... 'cause then the Satan will tempt them or something, and they might end up, you know, doing like, bad things. If like, they like, get together or something, they might shack up or something, that's why we don't let, like them, really, like, I mean, that's just like, the rules.
Interviewer: They shack up?
Interviewer: What do you mean, shack up?
Girl: Um, like, you know, not married and you live with them, or something. Or that you mean, I mean, back what I was saying, that, I mean, like, that they like commit fornication or something, if (unintelligible) doesn't like you to do that, so... That's why we don't do it, 'cause it might tempt them to do it, and so, we don't want it to happen 'cause we read the Bible, so, the Bible says not to do that, so we don't do it.
Interviewer: So, men aren't allowed at the mission?
Girl: They don't come...
Interviewer: They don't come inside?
Interviewer: OK. How come Pastor Alamo stays at the mission?
Girl: Well, his room is over there, and... OK, there's his, like, there's like a room, and then there's like... [is drawing] ...there's like, a room, and he usually stays in that, his room, and then there's just like, other rooms, and stuff, and so he just usually just stays in his room.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Well, where is your room?
Girl: Uh, my room is... It's like, there's like, 'kay, his room, and there's like another room, then another room, then another room, and that's like our room right here. And like it's like that, and our room's like (unintelligible), away.
Interviewer: With his room, you said nobody really, goes in there?
Girl: No, I mean, his wife goes in there.
Interviewer: His wife goes in there?
Interviewer: Is the door open or is it closed?
Girl: It's closed, usually.
Interviewer: It's closed?
Girl: Yeah, it's always closed. But, it's like, sometimes it's just like [open] a crack, but, I mean... So I'm just, you know, it's his wife who's in there, or something.
Interviewer: Does anybody ever get curious and want to look in or see, or just...?
Girl: No, we just... We just go in our rooms... None of their business, they don't like, barge in, they just...
Interviewer: Did you ever wonder what was in there?
Interviewer: Did you ever see in there, or...?
Girl: I mean, like, they walk in, I mean, they walk by I don't want to just like (unintelligible), peer in, I mean, it's like, I haven't seen... It's not, nothing bad I know, 'cause I know we don't have weapons or anything like that.
Interviewer: You don't have weapons or anything like that?
Girl: Mm-mm. [shakes her head 'no']
Interviewer: But you said there's a refrigerator and stuff in there?
Girl: Yeah, 'cause when I walked through there, I saw it, and so...
Interviewer: Did you go in his room when you were showing 'em around?
Girl: Yeah, (her sister), they asked me, um, they asked me to tell 'em whose room was whose, and so, I walked... they walked through there, so told 'em which room was which.
Interviewer: What else did you see in there?
Girl: I just saw, I wasn't really like, curious, but I mean, I just saw like, a bed, and a, a desk, and a seeing machine, uh...
Interviewer: A what machine?
Girl: A seeing machine, 'cause we use, you know, (unintelligible), and you put, he puts, his like, Bible and stuff under there, and it, it's like a little screen, you can see it bigger.
Interviewer: Oh, a seeing machine, OK.
Girl: Yeah. Mm-hmm. And, like, a table, and a fridge, and... wasn't really like, looking around that much.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Did you see anything else?
Girl: Like, um... Like, uh... Like, door, and there's like a closet of this, like, there's like a, you know, tub in there, and then there's like, a shower, and then he has his racks of clothes, and then there's like these things that have, like, videos, that, you know, we're OK to watch, but you know, have not bad stuff in it, like, I don't know, like, stuff that's on the right question (unintelligible) movies that are good and don't have anything bad in them, and stuff.
Interviewer: Where does he keep the movies?
Girl: Oh. It's in, like, it's, it's kind of like, a, a room, or a, it's like, like, stuff, like his clothes, racks, there's racks of clothes, I mean, you know, there's like, it's like this closet is like rack, they go rack, and another rack of his stuff, clothes on there, and then there was, like, in a corner, there's a bunch of things that, you know, we're OK to see, videos, I mean like...
Interviewer: If those are ... what makes them OK to see?
Girl: Um, they just don't have anything bad in them.
Interviewer: OK, what would be bad; what wouldn't be OK to see?
Girl: Like, if it had, like, bad, like, words in there, like, cussing or something like that, or, if there's any like, people that are naked or something, or something like that.
Interviewer: Have you ever seen one of the bad ones?
Girl: No. We don't see them, we're not allowed to see them; nobody is really allowed to see them, it's like... like, clean, like, old movies, and, like, like that. Or the bad movies.
Interviewer: About the racks of clothes, what kinds of clothes does he have?
Girl: I don't know, I mean... Just, normal clothes.
Interviewer: Normal clothes? What else did you see in there?
Girl: Just... that. I mean, I, there was like, other stuff, but I didn't really, like, walk around and look, but, you know, I just like, walked through.
Girl: You know, I mean, there's, you know, the shower and the bathtub, I mean, the shower and the, yeah, the bathtub and the toilet and the sink. That's... That's basically all I remember.
Interviewer: OK. Have you been in there any other times?
Interviewer: Would you get in trouble for going in there?
Girl: I don't know, I mean, I just don't go in there.
Interviewer: Just don't go in there? Would you get in trouble for going in there yesterday, everybody being in there?
Girl: Uh, no, I mean, we just don't, we just, go in there, just, mind our own business...
Girl: We just, like, mind our own business, and like, go into other rooms.
Interviewer: When you were showing me ... when you were showing (the girl's sister) around?
Girl: Uh, yeah. (Her sister) and, there's, there's another FBI woman, and that, she asked her if she could, if I could, show them, like, which rooms were whose, whose rooms were... which, I mean, which, you know, whose room was... what rooms were whose.
Girl: And then there was (her sister), and there, um, an F, and an FBI agent, you know, and (her sister)out there.
Interviewer: And then you talked about, um, (the girl's sister) wanted to go out and commit fornication, and you talked about, and you said that was, um... What did you tell me fornication was?
Girl: It's like, when you're not married, and you go, and like, go have sex with like, boys or other people, like men, or something, and you're not married and you're just like, different people, and you know, do that. Unless you're married.
Interviewer: Who taught you about sex and fornication?
Girl: And just, we just know that, that, I know that it's bad, and you just don't, remember that in the Bible it says not to, to do that, and so, it says, I mean, then, I got told that it's, what it means was that it's, you know, it's bad, and that means do whatever, if you have sex or whatever. And the world is so plain today, you can see it everywhere. Like, New York is like, vile out there, and there's like, naked people and stuff like that, it's like, gross. And turn your head.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. What is sex?
Girl: I don't know.
Interviewer: What do you mean when you say, sex is bad?
Girl: I mean, I know it's bad, but, something with a man and woman, but, I don't really know.
Interviewer: You don't really know? OK. Will you hold on just a second? I'll be right back, OK?
Girl: Will you get me another water?
Interviewer: Some more water? I sure will.
Girl: And, uh...
Girl: Can you get ice in that?
Interviewer: You want ice? [laughs] I thought you might that first time.
Interviewer: OK. I have a few more questions, some things that, um, I want to make sure that I understand. I told you I was, you know, you talked a little bit last night, uh, about some things, and um, you had told me, you know, you were talking about your church and everything, and I want to make sure I understood everything OK. Um, because, before I walked in to the house last night, I mean I knew very little about, you know, your church and your church family, and everything, OK. And I'm learning a lot! [laughs] today, I'm learning a lot as we go, and I want to have a better understanding of things, OK?
Interviewer: I want to ask you about, um, some more questions about marriage, OK? You had talked about when, um, a woman, um, reaches puberty, that she is, she's, you know, old enough and that she's, you know, become a woman and she can, she can get married, OK. Um, how is it decided, how do you decide who you're going to marry, or how do you know who you're going to marry?
Girl: Um, I don't mean, 'cause they just... What do you mean?
Interviewer: Well, who says you can get married?
Girl: Well, if, if, you decide, you say, you see somebody that you're interested in the person, you're interested or whatever, you just, like, OK, you just ask to like, see, if, talk to them, and they see if you like, if they, if they want to marry them still, and if they don't want to marry them, then, then they just ask them, you know, they just ask them, the person if they want to marry them or not. And if they say 'yes,' then they do, and if they say 'no,' then they don't.
Interviewer: OK. Who does the marrying?
Girl: Just, um, different people in our church, they just, like, um, like I say, I was (unintelligible) marry them.
Interviewer: Are there other pastors at your church?
Interviewer: OK. Um, what does Pastor Alamo do when he's there?
Girl: Uh, well, he's mainly in his room. Then, when he comes, he comes...
Interviewer: Does he do anything like, at the church, or does he, um, does he preach or anything like that when he's there?
Girl: Well, he, he preaches on the message tape, because, I mean on tapes, and records them and puts them in radio, and then he, they put them on CDs for us to listen to.
Girl: And, he does it because he knows that there's people who would want to tell him, and so he knows he could (unintelligible) where he tells them, like, if you should go or not.
Interviewer: The Lord tells him if he should go or not?
Girl: Yeah. And then the Lord said, for him to teach, you know, of course, you know, through the Pastor, church, and to teach the people in church, so, he, um, he puts, he like, you know, he's like, in the Bible and he explains things on there, on message, and he has (unintelligible) and radio, and he gives them to us to listen to, and, when he does in church, the Lord says, you know, if you should or not, and he does. And if, the Lord, if, like, (unintelligible) and then he comes to church and he just you know, uh, he preaches, and then, but he usually does it like, uh, his, you know, house, and like... But he does, he just puts them on the messages.
Interviewer: He usually does it at the house, though, and not at the church?
Girl: Mm-hmm. [nods her head]
Interviewer: OK. Um, how often do you go to church?
Girl: Oh, every night.
Interviewer: Every night?
Interviewer: OK. You said...
Girl: Unless, you know, we're, yeah. On Sunday at 3 p.m., but, and uh, eight, too. Unless like, maybe, whatever, they're sick. But, I mean, if you're sick, you should, you know, go and get prayed over, but, I mean, you should, I usually go to church every night.
Interviewer: When you go to church, who, um, who kind of leads the, the church service?
Girl: Um, they, they um, call the pastor, and he picks, like, he winds up the service, like, whoever, you know, sent me in the church, they just like, he picks somebody, like, to like, uh, open the service, and then there's like somebody who gives us a message in the Bible. And then that's how he does it.
Interviewer: Who is it that does it in the balcony?
Girl: Oh, it's, it's different people.
Girl: You just like, any, (unintelligible), I mean it's like different people who are like, um, at church and stuff.
Interviewer: OK. Now you said you had never, um, been in his room?
Girl: No. I mean, when we walked through there, I went.
Interviewer: When you walked through there last night, you did?
Interviewer: OK. Um, do other people go in his room?
Girl: No, besides, you know, his wife, Sharon.
Interviewer: Besides his wife? Have you ever seen any other girls, um, go into his room?
Girl: Mm-mm. [shakes her head 'no']
Girl: [shakes her head]
Interviewer: What would happen if somebody did?
Girl: I don't know, they just, I mean, 'cause, I, nobody ever goes in his room, but, I know nobody goes in there, but it's not like they're, I mean, 'cause they should mind their own business, but, nobody goes in there at all. I mean, they, like, um, some government people say that these girls or something, they just like go in there and a lot of stuff, but they don't. They really don't.
Interviewer: The girls go in there and what?
Girl: They, the, the government says that they're trying to make all this bad stuff about him, but, like, he like, like, like, polygamist and all this stuff, but it's like, he's not a polygamist, and, he's just, I mean, there's nothing wrong it, there's nothing wrong with it, but, I mean, nobody in our church is, and just, stuff like that, the government just, like, tries to accuse people of, but, our pastor, but, really, he doesn't, there's no people like, do that.