Another pastor faces charges of child sexual abuse. Randall “Danny” Russell, 49, of Neosho has been charged with second-degree statutory rape, second-degree statutory sodomy and child abuse.
Another pastor faces charges of child sexual abuse.
Randall “Danny” Russell, 49, of Neosho has been charged with second-degree statutory rape, second-degree statutory sodomy and child abuse.
Russell, the pastor of Acts II church, located at 11285 Mulberry Road in Neosho, is accused of having sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl in 2003 and 2004.
“We have a young woman that has come forward and alleges he began having sexual contact with her in 2003, and it continued on to 2004,” said Bill Dobbs, Newton County assistant prosecutor.
Deputies with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the church, which is also the site of Russell’s business, Garages & More, and his home. Deputies said they seized a computer from the business and several photographs of a nude juvenile girl from the church office. According to a probable cause affidavit, the photos were dated Dec. 21, 2003.
“I spoke to Randall Danny Russell about these allegations,” wrote Detective Mike Barnett, an investigator with the sheriff’s department, in the affidavit. “Russell stated that he did photograph (the girl) nude when she was 16 years of age. Russell stated that his first sexual encounter with (the teen) was at Morse Park.”
According to the affidavit, Russell said the girl was 16 when they had oral sex, but he thought she was 18 when they had sexual intercourse for the first time.
Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said the church has about 30 members, all ranging in age from preteen to early 20s. He said church members told him Russell was a pastor, and Russell calls himself a pastor, but no ordination, denominational or license documents were found at the church.
Several other area church leaders have been accused of child sexual abuse, including George Otis Johnston, self-proclaimed pastor of Grandview Valley Independent Baptist Church, who faces 17 felony counts in Newton County after two women came forward and said the pastor had sexual relations with them while both were under age.
Johnston’s nephew, Raymond Lambert, faces eight counts of child sexual abuse in McDonald County. Lambert is the self-proclaimed pastor of Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church, and Johnston’s church is a spinoff of that congregation.
“There is no connection with what we’ve seen with any other investigations we’ve done, no tie-ins with him, other than a self-proclaimed pastor using Bible scriptures of the church to take advantage of girls,” Copeland said. “Our question is ‘Where are all the parents of these young girls and what did they know about the church?’ It’s more or less a teen haven type of deal.”
Bond was set at $250,000, which was posted shortly after Russell’s arrest, Copeland said. The sheriff added he didn’t know if Russell plans to hold church services Sunday, but he said his department would be there.
“This case is unbelievable. What a bad name this gives Christianity and the church.
You ought to be able to go to church and trust the pastor, to open up to them.”
Neosho Daily News