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Evangelist arrested in child porn case

  • Story Highlights
  • FBI: Founder and leader of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries arrested Thursday
  • Alamo charged with transporting a minor across state lines to engage in sex
  • Federal and state agents raided Alamo's 15-acre compound
  • Alamo called the investigation "a hoax" and likened himself to Jesus
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(CNN) -- Evangelist Tony Alamo was arrested Thursday in Flagstaff, Arizona, on charges related to a child porn investigation, an FBI spokesman said.

The 74-year-old founder and leader of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries was arrested without incident at 2:45 p.m. (4:45 p.m. ET) as he was departing the Little America Hotel with his wife, said Manuel Johnson, spokesman for the FBI in Phoenix, Arizona.

The FBI, the Flagstaff Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety were involved in the arrest, he said.

Alamo was charged under a federal statute with having knowingly transported a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity, Johnson said.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie Hoffman, was taken to Coconino County Jail in Flagstaff, where he is to have an initial appearance Friday in federal magistrate court, Johnson said.

Over the weekend, about 100 federal and state agents authorities raided Alamo's 15-acre compound near Texarkana, Arkansas, and took six children into temporary custody.

The children were interviewed as part of a two-year investigation into Tony Alamo Christian Ministries to determine whether they were physically or sexually abused, said Bill Sadler of the Arkansas State Police.

Alamo, reached by phone Saturday in Los Angeles, California, denied any wrongdoing.

"It's a hoax," Alamo said. "They're just trying to make our church look evil ... by saying I'm a pornographer. Saying that I rape little children. ... I love children. I don't abuse them. Never have. Never will."

Asked why authorities were searching the property, Alamo compared himself to Christ.

"Why were they after Jesus?" he asked. "It's the same reason. Jesus is living within me."

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