Two More Sex Abuse Accusations Made Against Randall “Danny” Russell

This story is courtesy of the Joplin Globe.


By Jeff Lehr

Accusations by two more women who have come forward are expected to produce more charges of sexual abuse against Randall “Danny” Russell, pastor of a fringe church on the edge of Neosho.

A 21-year-old woman who lives on the West Coast has said she reported sexual abuse at the hands of Russell, 49, to the Newton County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri Department of Social Services in 2002, when she was 15 years old.

Accounts of Russell’s arrest April 29, on charges that he sexually abused a female member of his Acts II church, at 12825 Mulberry Road, four to five years ago when she was 15, apparently prompted the West Coast woman to come forward.

Sheriff Ken Copeland said the resurfacing of the complainant prompted a review of department records this week. No report of her prior complaint could be found, the sheriff said. But a retired sheriff’s investigator acknowledged that he had looked into her complaint along with a state child-abuse investigator from the former Division of Family Services, now called Children’s Division of DSS.

Copeland said both the retired sheriff’s investigator and the DSS investigator involved recalled that the teen had been reluctant to testify against Russell, and that the case had been dropped for that reason.

The sheriff said her renewed complaint is being pursued at this time.

“Mike Barnett (the detective in charge of current investigation) has contacted her, we’ve taken a report and we intend to present it to the prosecutor,” Copeland said.

Charges likely to be requested are child molestation, he said. No sexual intercourse is alleged, he said.

Russell stands charged with second-degree statutory rape, second-degree statutory sodomy, and child abuse with respect to the victim who came forward more than a week ago. She claimed that Russell had taken nude photographs of her when she was 16 and had both oral sex and sexual intercourse with her.

She alleged a progressive course of sexual abuse at the pastor’s hands, beginning with kissing and touching of genitals through clothing in August of 2003, proceeding to oral sex in a church office in late 2003 or early 2004, and eventually culminating in sexual intercourse in May or June of 2004.

Sheriff’s deputies allegedly found nude photographs of the girl still in the church office when they executed a search warrant there April 29.

Copeland said Friday that about 12 to 14 females who attended the church in recent years have been interviewed by investigators in an effort to determine how extensive sexual abuse may have been within the church. He said none of those has reported being sexually abused by Russell.

But a third alleged victim came forward on her own early this week, the sheriff said. She is 24 and now lives in Joplin.

2 Responses

  1. is there a reason the name or type of the church is not mentioned? “the church” makes EVERY church suspect. a specific listing of “the churches” would tally up if this is a fringe church, cult church, or more mainline denomination, baptist, catholic, protestant, jewish, muslim problem. some of these reports make a person nervous. is it here? is it there? thank you for a VERY helpful site. GOD BLESS YOU!

    • The only reason is that usually when I post these stories I just put up the basic information with a linked article that has all the details. Sometimes I include the name of the church, but it’s not something that’s planned one way or the other, generally. Every once in awhile the church name is inherently important to the story so I’ll include it (like if the church itself is being sued). The information that matters most is the name of the individual charged.

      Also, the focus of this site is Protestant Christian churches. I often don’t post about really weird fringe groups – for the simple reason that I don’t want to support the misconception that this is a problem that mostly, or only, happens in weird fringe groups. This is happening in mainline denominations and churches that seem as normal as can be on a regular basis.

      The purpose in each posting is to make a record and raise awareness, not to give full details about the case. That’s why I link to a news article. Also I hope that those searching for information about the case will also find the articles posted here which may be able to help them deal with the situation as it affects their own lives.

      — Danni

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