Pastor accused of molesting boys from his parish

NBC 2 News, Florida/August 1, 2006

Fort Myers -- Police arrested a Fort Myers pastor Monday night for allegedly sexually assaulting three young boys from his parish. Fifty three year old Russell Brown, who worked at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, is charged with three felony counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.

In a letter to his parish, Brown resigned from his church after 20 years, but didn't give a reason.

"A little while later, then you got an announcement that he had done some unjustified things to little kids," said Nikki Preston, Antioch church member.

Many church members couldn't believe the news.

"He's a good man, that's why I can't. It's hard, it's a shock because he's really a good man," said Preston.

According to Brown's arrest affidavit, it started with one boy coming forward, then another and another.

There are six children who allege between 1999 and 2005 the "sick preacher" would strip and molest them inside the church and at his home on Kingsman Circle where he watched the children after school.

Brown's wife Mary didn't answer the door when we knocked. Neighbors say they don't believe all the accusations and if Brown were around, they would let him mentor their children.

"He's going to go through something because he's got to answer for what he done and that's just reality. You got to answer for what you done, but he's still a good man," said Preston.

Investigators say Brown has admitted to some of the charges and has even expressed remorse. But that testimony will not be public knowledge until his trial.

How does the church move past this incident?

"Actually the church has become a lot closer. Everyone you know you pray, you get closer and ask how another's doing and you don't overlook simple comments that a child makes anymore," said Preston.

Detectives expected Brown to turn himself in at the beginning of July, but he disappeared. Monday night, he arrived on the steps of the Fort Myers Police Department.

If convicted, Brown could spend the rest of his life in prison.

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