Friday, January 25, 2008

Thomas Edwin Russell - Repeat Sex Offender

A Level 3 registered sex offender already facing a rape charge in Washington County is also accused of raping two girls in Benton County.

Thomas Edwin Russell, 53, appeared Wednesday morning before Circuit Judge Tom Keith for a bond hearing. The judge set bond at $ 500, 000.

Russell's placement on the sex-offender registry occurred when he was convicted in Washington County of raping a 9-year-old girl.

He currently faces a Washington County charge of raping an 11-year-old girl. A trial is set for Tuesday.

His Benton County arrest happened Wednesday at the Washington County Detention Center, where he was being held.

Russell was arrested for rape, a class Y felony punishable with a sentence ranging from 10 to 40 years or life in prison, and first-degree terroristic threatening, a class D felony punishable with up to six years in prison.

Russell is accused of raping two girls - 11 and 12 years old. Russell was friends with the families of the children, court documents state. The 11-year-old girl is the same alleged victim in the Washington County case.

"(Russell ) will likely be charged with two counts of rape," Deputy Prosecutor Mike Armstrong said. "Police are investigating whether there's a third victim."

Armstrong expects to file formal charges against Russell in the near future.

The affidavit contains graphic details from the alleged victims and other witnesses about the abuse they claim the girls endured.

The 12-year-old told police Russell threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about the abuse, according to court documents.

Rogers police began investigating the case after receiving information concerning Russell having an inappropriate relationship with one of the girls.

Russell served 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction after being convicted of first-degree sexual abuse involving the 9-yearold girl. He was arrested in March for failure to comply with sex-offender registration requirements, Armstrong said.

Russell was already being held in the Washington County jail in lieu of $ 100, 000 bond.

Armstrong recommended Russell's bond be set at $ 150, 000 for the Benton County case.

Public Defender Scott McElveen, who represented Russell at the bond hearing, asked that a reasonable bond be set.

McElveen said Russell is a lifelong resident of Washington County and has no history of failure to appear.

Keith considered the allegations against Russell, his history and Russell's prior court appearances. Keith said his overriding concern is the nature of the allegations against Russell, and "if true, makes (Russell ) a predator - serious, serious predator."

Keith set Russell's bond at $ 500, 000. If released on bond, the judge ordered that Russell be placed on a GPS monitor.

Russell's Benton County arraignment is scheduled for 8: 30 a.m. March 3.

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