A rural Neosho self-proclaimed pastor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of felony first-degree child molestation and child enticement charges.


A rural Neosho self-proclaimed pastor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of felony first-degree child molestation and child enticement charges.

On Tuesday morning, Randall “Danny” Russell was sentenced to two 15-year terms, the maximum allowed on each of the charges. The terms will run concurrently, or at the same time, and Russell must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence or 13 ½ years according to Bill Dobbs, Newton County assistant prosecutor.

In March, Russell pleaded guilty to a Class B felony charge of first-degree child molestation and a Class B felony count of sexual exploitation of a minor. Russell entered the plea as part of a plea bargain agreement, and was originally charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, six counts of possession of child pornography, a count of second-degree statutory rape, two counts of first-degree sodomy, a count of felony child abuse, two felony counts of child molestation and a misdemeanor charge of child molestation.

“This is a sentence that will ensure Mr. Russell will be in full custody for a long time,” said Dobbs. “And it will protect the victims in the case and any potential future victims.”

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 when three women testified during a preliminary hearing that he had molested, sodomized or raped them when they were under age.

Dobbs said the county came to the agreement after meeting with three young women who accused Russell of having sexual intercourse with them while they were under age. The agreement spared the women of having to testify during a trial.

While in prison, Russell will have to complete a state sex offender program, which Dobbs said lasts about two years.

The remaining charges were dropped without prejudice, which means the charges can be refiled at any time until the statute of limitations runs out. For sexual abuse crimes against children, the statute of limitations is 10 years after the alleged victim’s 18th birthday. For other charges, such as the possession of child pornography charges, the statute of limitations is three years.