- (Photo: Facebook/'Free Tom Randall)
Announcements made via social media on Monday indicate Ohio pastor Tom Randall has been released from jail in the Philippines, and his charges of negligence toward sex abuse and human trafficking at his orphanage have reportedly been dropped.
An update on the "Free Tom Randall" Facebook page posted Monday indicates the pastor has been released from jail in the Asian country. "All charges dropped. Tom Randall is free," reads the text on an image uploaded to the Facebook page.
A later update on the page reads: "Now that he is free, Tom's next prayer and concern is for the kids from the orphanage who were taken. Many of the boys have been found. However, they don't know where the girls are. He [and others] are working to find them all, and to make sure they are safe, secure, and cared for. Also, still waiting for word on Toto and Jake. Hopefully they will be cleared soon."
Additionally, Joe Coffey, lead pastor at the Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, Ohio, where Randall is also staffed, tweeted on Monday: "Aftr 22 days tom Randall is free. All charges dropped! Praise God! Still prying for all truth to come out and 4 welfare of the children."
Randall, a pastor from Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, founded the Sankey Samaritan Orphanage in Lucena City, Philippines, in 1998 along with his wife, Karen Randall. The pastor was visiting the Asian country in early January to visit the orphanage and aid in relief efforts related to the destructive Typhoon Haiyan when he was arrested by Filipino authorities and charged with obstruction of justice after claims that he had done nothing to stop the alleged sexual abuse and human trafficking at his orphanage.
Additionally, two of the orphanage's staffers, including orphanage manager, Perfecto "Toto" Luchavez, and his son, Mark "Jake" Luchavez, were charged with violating the country's anti-human trafficking law; Jake Luchavez was also charged with rape. Authorities claimed that the two men had allowed friends to sexually abuse female victims at the orphanage.
According to the Filipino media outlet ABS-CBN News, several of the orphans at the Sankey Samaritan Orphanage claimed they had been sexually abused or raped since 2005, saying that Pastor Randall had done nothing to stop the abuse. The children were reportedly afraid to tell police of the abuse for fear of being placed in a different home. Following the arrests in mid-January, the 31 orphans staying at Sankey were removed from the orphanage and turned over to the country's Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Pastor Coffey, who has described himself as a close friend of Randall's, has consistently denied his friend's involvement in any misdoings at his orphanage in the Philippines, where he has served as a missionary for decades. Coffey wrote on his personal blog earlier in January that he thinks the sex abuse charges against Randall and other staffers at the orphanage may have stemmed from the claims of one 15-year-old girl who later recanted her statement.
"From what I understand, there was an allegation against a worker at his orphanage by a 15-year-old girl who said the worker kissed her. Tom called children's services to investigate. They found that the allegation wasn't true. The girl recanted and said she made it up because she was mad at the worker for taking away her privileges," Coffey said. "The worker was exonerated. Then, all of a sudden, there's an accusation of molestation and a charge that the orphanage is a front for sex trafficking – something that should be taken seriously and investigated."
"We are deeply concerned about human trafficking and have been working on a personal and community level to do what we can to end this horrible crime," Coffey said. "Sex trafficking is a heinous thing and as someone who has known Tom for 20 years, I can't believe there is any truth to it. Unfortunately, it's the kind of thing that sticks no matter what the outcome is. We are praying that he's not being implicated in any of this."
Randall recently retired after working for 13 years as a chaplain for the PGA Champions Tour, where he would minister to professional golfers, their families and caddies by conducting a Bible study at each tournament. He was also reportedly a professional basketball player and dedicated part of his outreach effort in the Philippines to organizing local basketball matches in villages.
Randall became director of World Harvest Ministries in 1990, and the Sankey Samaritan Orphanage in Lucena City is part of that mission ministry. The pastor was hired at Christ Community Chapel in September after he and his wife moved from Edmond, Okla., to Stow, Ohio.