Missouri pastor gets 15 years for child molestation, exploitation

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | 10:24 a.m. CDT

PINEVILLE — The pastor of a small Missouri church in Newton County has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting a girl and photographing another in the nude.

Newton County Circuit Judge Tim Perigo on Tuesday sentenced Randall "Danny" Russell, 50, of Neosho for first-degree child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor. Russell pleaded guilty to the two felonies last month.

Three women who testified against the Acts II Church pastor at a preliminary hearing in June said Russell either raped, molested or sodomized them while they were minors. One said Russell told her the sex acts were to please God.

A plea agreement 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."

One woman testified 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.

During the 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.

Russell was arrested and charged in April 2008 after one of the victims contacted authorities.

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