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SNAP
Statement



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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Missouri pastor sent to prison for sexual abuse of teens; sex abuse victims respond

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)

We are grateful because this action gives these victims a sense of validation and healing, while also safeguarding youngsters from an obviously dangerous man.

This sentence reminds us of a simple truth we in SNAP learned long ago: when victims and witnesses speak up, at least there's a chance for healing, justice and prevention. But when victims stay silent, kids keep getting hurt, predators keep assaulting others, and those who've been wounded stay trapped in shame, silence and self-blame.

We strongly suspect that at least a few current or former church employees or members saw, suspected or suffered Russell's crimes. It’s crucial that victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers continue to find the courage to share what they know with police, prosecutors and therapists. It's possible that others who suspected but ignored Russell's crimes, or knew of but concealed his crimes, could be prosecuted as well. If this is true, we hope this happens.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around since 1988 and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact:

David Clohessy, SNAP National Director 314-566-9790, Barbara Blaine, SNAP President 312-399-4747


http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/local_story_111225234.html

Area pastor sent to prison for sexual abuse of teens

By Jeff Lehr, jlehr@joplinglobe.com

PINEVILLE, Mo. — The self-appointed pastor of a Newton County church was assessed 15 years in prison Tuesday for molesting an underage girl and taking advantage of another by photographing her in the nude.

Circuit Judge Tim Perigo sentenced Randall “Danny” Russell, 50, to two 15-year terms on convictions for first-degree child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor. The hearing was conducted in McDonald County Circuit Court, where the case had been moved on a change of venue. The judge ordered that the two terms will run concurrently.

The pastor of the Acts II Church near Neosho pleaded guilty to the charges in March in a plea agreement that dropped 18 other counts he was facing and limited the length of prison time he could be assessed to 15 years.

“I believe the victims are relieved this case was resolved,” said Bill Dobbs, Newton County assistant prosecutor. “I think the sentence is appropriate, and Mr. Russell will serve a significant time in prison for his acts.”

All of the defendant’s alleged acts were committed under the auspices of his church or in his role as its minister, Dobbs said. But no evidence surfaced in the investigation of Russell to suggest that he created the church and set himself up as its pastor expressly for the purpose of accessing young girls, Dobbs said.

Three women testified at a preliminary hearing in June of last year that Russell either raped, molested or sodomized them while they were minors.

One of them told the court that Russell first began fondling her when she was 12 during rides to a church she and her family attended in Goodman. He also fondled her on a couch in his home after church services, she told the court. That victim, who is now in her 20s, testified that the encounters “got progressively worse” until she stopped going to church with him.

During the course of an investigation by the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, Russell admitted photographing a second girl when she was 16. He admitted at his plea hearing in March that the girl was nude for some of the photographs.

Initial counts

Initial charges against Randall Russell pertained to sexual acts with three underage girls Russell knew through his church or from his attendance at a church in Goodman before starting his own church


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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