by Max Brantley
U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge has announced a guilty plea by a member of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries for transporting his 13-year-old stepdaughter from Oklahoma to Fort Smith to have sex with her in a van in a mechanic's shop.
He was indicted early this year. The child and siblings were taken into protective custody when a major federal investigation of Tony Alamo began.
Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Douglas Christopher, 59, of Valparaiso, Indiana, pleaded guilty to knowingly transporting a minor from Oklahoma to Arkansas with the intent to engage in sexual activity. The plea took place before the Honorable P. K. Holmes III in United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith.
U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “This Defendant, like others involved in the Alamo organization, engaged in horrendous conduct involving sexual abuse of a minor child. He has now been convicted. I appreciate the tireless work of law enforcement and our office to bring sexual perpetrators to justice. We will not rest in our efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who abuse our children.”
Fort Smith Police Detective Kris Deason stated “I am proud of the victim for coming forward and disclosing what had happened to her. Because of her courage, another child abuser will suffer the consequences of his behavior.”
According to court records, Christopher, a member of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, previously resided at an Alamo compound located in Muldrow, Oklahoma. In 2009, a law enforcement raid of Alamo’s compound in Fouke, Arkansas, caused Alamo satellite-compound residents to go into hiding. Christopher and other followers relocated to Valparaiso, Indiana. While living in Oklahoma, Christopher was assigned to stand watch at properties under the organization’s control. One location, on Division Street in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was known as the “mechanic’s shop.” Beginning around June 2003, Christopher began transporting a minor, whose mother he had married in 2000, from the family’s home in Oklahoma to the mechanic’s shop for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse. Specifically, in August 2008, when the minor was 13 years old, Christopher transported the minor to the mechanic’s shop where they then had sexual intercourse in a van parked inside the shop. Shortly after this trip, the minor and siblings were taken into protective custody in response to the federal investigation of Tony Alamo.
Christopher was originally charged in a five-count indictment on January 16, 2013.
The defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violations. The sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases will be less than the maximum. In this case, Christopher faces a minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison and a fine of $250,000.
This case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Timmy Akins and Fort Smith Police Department Detective Kris Deason. Assistant United States Attorney Kyra Jenner is prosecuting the case for the United States.