LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Evangelist Tony Alamo left Arizona for Arkansas under the watch of federal marshals Monday, preparing to answer to charges that he took children across state lines to engage in sexual activity.
U.S. Marshal Richard O'Connell of Fort Smith told The Associated Press that Alamo was en route to Arkansas, but declined to offer any details on how officials would be transporting him.
Arkansas and federal agents raided Alamo's compound in Fouke on Sept. 20, searching for evidence that children there had been molested or filmed having sex. Arkansas authorities later took six girls from the compound, ages 10 to 17, into protective custody.
Five days after the raid, FBI agents arrested Alamo at a luxury resort in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Federal court documents filed in Arizona, calling the flamboyant evangelist by his birth name of Bernie Hoffman, show police believe he took children across state lines to engage in "sexual activity." He was charged under the federal Mann Act, usually used in interstate prostitution cases.
Alamo, 74, had waived his right to fight extradition to Arkansas. He has not yet been indicted, and Patrick Beneca, a lawyer for Alamo, said "we're just waiting and seeing. ... I know he's excited to get his side of the story told."
Officials have declined to say what the girls taken into custody told them, or what they found after they raided the compound. The arrest warrant for Alamo remains sealed in federal court.
Alamo has said the age of consent to marry is puberty and there's a mandate in the Bible for girls marrying young, but has denied the federal allegations.
Alamo was convicted of tax-related charges in 1994 and served four years in prison after the IRS said he owed the government $7.9 million.