Russell Bound over

Neosho Daily News
October 21, 2008

Neosho, Mo. - A rural Neosho self-proclaimed pastor was bound over for trial on two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor Monday, while six counts of possession of child pornography have been refiled.

Randall "Danny" Russell, 49, pastor of Acts II Church in rural Neosho, was bound over on two Class B felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor during a preliminary hearing held Monday morning in Newton County Associate Circuit Court Judge Greg Stremel's courtroom.

Because a witness from the forensic laboratory that reportedly found pornographic photos of children on Russell's computer was unavailable, six Class D felony charges of possession of child pornography were dropped, but were refiled later Monday.

The Class B felony charges carry a penalty range of five to 15 years in prison, if a conviction is

reached. The penalty range for each of the Class D felony counts is up to five years in prison.

Russell also faces a count of second-degree statutory rape, two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, six counts of second-degree statutory sodomy, a count of felony child abuse, two felony counts of child molestation, and a misdemeanor charge of child molestation. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges. The case has been moved to McDonald County on a change of venue.

A motion hearing has been set for Oct. 31 in McDonald County Circuit Court on two felony counts of child molestation, two felony counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, and five counts of second-degree statutory sodomy. A jury trial has been slated to begin Dec. 16.

Allegations of child sexual abuse first came to light after an April 29, raid by the Newton County Sheriff's Department at the church, which is also the site of Russell's business, Garages & More, and his home. Deputies 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.

Russell was bound over for trial after three women testified during a preliminary hearing that he molested, sodomized, or raped them when they were under age.

The first alleged victim, now 20, testified the abuse began when she was about 15 years old and continued until April of this year. She said most of the incidents occurred in the church office, progressing from touching through the clothing to beneath the clothing to sexual intercourse.

The second alleged victim, a woman now aged 24, testified she began attending church with the Russell family when she was 12 and living in Goodman. Dobbs said she told the court she traveled to church in one vehicle with Danny Russell, while Russell's wife, Shirley, went in another vehicle. She told the court Russell would fondle her on the way to church.

The third woman to testify, now 19 and a sister to the first woman testifying Monday, said she also began attending the church at about 15 years of age, and abuse began shortly afterward with touching outside of her clothing.

Another woman, who currently lives on the West Coast, told the Neosho Daily News Russell had touched her outside of her clothes several years ago when she was 15. This led to a misdemeanor child molestation charge against Russell.


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