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Title Alamo - Girls taken in Alamo raid stay in state custody
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Alamo - Girls taken in Alamo raid stay in state custody September 24th, 2008 -

The six girls taken from Tony Alamo's religious compound in southwest Arkansas remained in state custody Tuesday, and a state Department of Human Services spokesman indicated that state officials have asked a judge to keep them there. The department was required to obtain an order in Miller County Circuit Court by Tuesday to keep the children in custody. After an emergency order is issued, a hearing must be held within five days to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the girls would be in danger if they were returned home. [...]

Authorities have said they are investigating allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children at the compound and the transportation of minors across state lines for criminal activity. An e-mail that was acci- dentally sent to dozens of news organizations Friday also indicated authorities believe child pornography has been produced at the compound. [...]

"There has been so much time and effort put into this case the last thing we want to do is say anything that would compromise the work that has gone into this," Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said. In addition to the six girls taken into custody, three others were assessed Saturday evening but were determined not to be at risk, Munsell said. The boys at the compound weren't assessed because police didn't suspect they were being abused, Munsell said. [...] Alamo, 74, has denied that any children at the compound have been abused. Alamo, who said Monday that he was in Los Angeles, didn't respond Tuesday to questions about whether church members would participate in the court proceedings. Through a church member, he said, "They are not supposed to have taken them away anyway, and they didn't do anything wrong, and nobody did wrong to them." He added, "These people, the government are in a lot of trouble from God and they [should] remember I, Tony, told you so." He declined a request to interview the girls' parents. State caseworkers were still working on Tuesday to track down all of the parents.

Some of the girls - Munsell declined to say how many - haven't been claimed by anyone. "We're still asking folks, if they are attempting to assert parental rights, that they present themselves to the local Miller County [Department of Human Services] office with identification," Munsell said. "For investigators and prosecutors, such cases require a lot more finesse than your average armed robbery or homicide," said Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley, who is not involved with the Alamo case. Investigators try to limit intrusive interviews, and they look for other evidence to back up the children's claims.

"You ultimately want to minimize any devastation on the victims," Jegley said. "A lot of times, they don't understand what's been going on, or don't really fathom how much they've been violated." Steve Hassan, a Somerville, Mass., counselor and former member of the Sun Myung Moon movement, said church members may have been taught not to trust outsiders. Enlisting the help of other relatives who are not involved with the church could help, he said. "It requires a pretty specialized form of talking to them," Hassan said. "What you shouldn't do is attack Tony Alamo and say bad things about him. You should try to befriend the person, and talk to them about your own life and make yourself human." This is a summary extract from the full article as it appeared on Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Sep. 24 2008 Full Article