“When a woman reaches puberty, she, according to god, is able to be married. They should be able to be married at 13, 14 and 15 years old. And in some cases, if they’ve menstruated already, 12 years old.”
Those are the words of the late Tony Alamo.
Alamo founded the Alamo Christian Foundation in 1969 and was an evangelist, a pastor, the head of a cult and, later, an abuser and rapist.
A year after Alamo’s death, two women have appeared in a documentary for People Magazine, detailing the horror of their experience as just two of Alamo’s child brides.
In the mid 1990s, Pebbles Rodriguez was just 12 years old. She knew little of independence, of what it was like to be able to go outside on her volition without asking permission. She barely knew life outside the walls of the Alamo Christian Foundation.
Before she was yet a teenager, Pebbles was told she was to marry Tony Alamo. His wife, Susan, had died over a decade before, believed to catalyst for Alamo’s spiral into insanity, polygamy and sexual abuse.
“I don’t know exactly why Tony chose me to be a bride,” Pebbles, now 32, says in the doco to be aired in June.
“I can surmise many things, I was extremely, extremely young looking. I think he liked the fact that I looked like a child.”
Pebbles remembers telling her friend Amy the news: She was to be a wife. One of many, in fact.
“My friend Amy said: ‘I’m a wife too. I couldn’t tell you this whole time because you weren’t one but now that you are going to be one, I can tell you’,” she recalled.
“I was just kind of in shock. All this was just too overwhelming to even try to process.”
Amy had been a bride - a wife - of Alamo for a couple of years prior.
“I think I was around 11 or 12 when my mum had told me the only person you’re ever going to marry is Tony Alamo,” Amy, now 34, recalled to People.
For nearly a decade, both Amy and Pebbles lived as child brides of Alamo and were deprived of food, beaten and regularly raped.