Self-proclaimed Pastor Faces 20 Felony Charges

By Derek Spellman
The Joplin Globe

August 7, 2008

NEOSHO, Mo. — A Neosho man identified as a self-anointed pastor of a fringe church now faces another batch of charges.

Randall "Danny" Russell, 49, pastor of the Acts II Church in rural Neosho, was charged Tuesday with six counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Russell already faced one count of statutory rape in the second degree, two counts of statutory sodomy in the first degree, six counts of statutory sodomy in the second degree, one count of felony child abuse and two counts of child molestation in the first degree.

Russell has pleaded innocent to those 12 felony charges. Those cases are to be tried in McDonald County on a change of venue.

The latest charges stem from photographs investigators reportedly found on Russell’s laptop, which Newton County authorities seized earlier this year while executing a search warrant at a compound that includes Russell’s home and business.

Forensic analysis of the laptop yielded photographs of children younger than 14 who were "either nude or partially nude (and) involved in either sexual acts or sexual (poses)," according to the probable-cause affidavit accompanying Tuesday’s charges. Russell was charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor because some of the photographs allegedly were taken by Russell himself, according to Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland.

Copeland and Newton County Prosecutor Jacob Skouby said that as of now, authorities have no information that would lead to the filing of additional charges against Russell.

"From all we can tell right now, that should conclude everything," Copeland said.

Russell was bound over for trial on the other 12 charges earlier this year after three women alleged during his preliminary hearing that he raped, molested or sodomized them when they were minors. The locations of the alleged abuse vary from a public park to church offices after services to Russell’s home where the church is located at 11285 Mulberry Road.

Russell was arrested and charged in late April after the first alleged victim contacted authorities.

While authorities were executing a search warrant at 11285 Mulberry Road, Russell allegedly acknowledged photographing the first alleged victim when she was 16, according to previous testimony by Detective Mike Barnett of the Newton County Sheriff’s Department.

Russell also allegedly acknowledged a sexual encounter with one of the victims in Morse Park and subsequent occasions of oral sex, although he reportedly told Barnett that he thought the girl was 18 when they had sexual intercourse for the first time.

In the wake of those charges, the other women came forward with their allegations, prompting the prosecutor’s office to bring another group of charges against Russell in mid-May.



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