TEXARKANA, Arkansas - Evangelist Tony Alamo told a girl who questioned one of his orders that he was "still in charge" of his religious compound even from a jail cell, according to recorded calls played Tuesday in his sex-crimes trial.
Prosecutors allege that a domineering Alamo took five underage girls across state lines for sex between 1994 and 2005. Defence lawyers say the government targeted Alamo for prosecution because it is anti-Christian. Alamo, who has pleaded not guilty, has also said the Vatican is behind his troubles.
Alamo told the girl, who is not among those he is accused of abusing, to "shut up" when she began to question him, according to the recordings made in Texarkana, Texas, after a raid on his southern Arkansas headquarters.
"Just because I'm in jail, you'll find out that I'm still in charge. OK, kid? You understand?" Alamo said in the recording.
Earlier in the tape, he threatened to kick the girl out of the community if she didn't obey.
"You either have to do what you're supposed to do or get out," Alamo said. When she began to protest, he interrupted her by saying, "Shut up. Shut your face. Clean up your stinking mess."
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday after four days of graphic testimony in which five women said they were "married" to Alamo as teens or preteens and were sexually assaulted by him. They said they travelled to other states for sex with him or responded to his call and returned to Arkansas and had sex with him.
As the defence began presenting its case, the woman considered to be Alamo's common-law wife, Sharon Alamo, said his trips with the girls were for legitimate church purposes. Under cross-examination, she said she couldn't explain a handful of wedding rings found in Alamo's bedroom.
"Didn't you notice the girls moving into the defendant's residence ... were getting younger and younger?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes asked.
"No, I didn't," Sharon Alamo replied.
Later, she said her romantic relationship with Alamo was "over" but wouldn't elaborate.
"My relationship with him is between myself and God and Tony," she said. "I know you want me to label it but I just can't do that."
Alamo has said the girls, part of his estimated 100-200 followers, were travelling to help spread the ministry's teachings. His apocalyptic tracts outline his hatred of the Vatican and his feared "one-world government" as well as his belief in flying saucers.
Alamo told reporters on the way to court Tuesday that he planned to take the stand, despite his lawyers' advice against it.
"I'm going to testify. I've already won. They've got nothing," Alamo said.
His legal team said it could call as many as 10 witnesses.
Each of the 10 counts against Alamo is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.