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INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Charges dropped against convicted sex offender accused of raping juvenile

7 months 1 week 9 hours ago Monday, July 24 2023 Jul 24, 2023 July 24, 2023 5:45 PM July 24, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — Charges were dropped Monday against a convicted sex offender who was arrested in 2018 and accused of raping a teenage boy.

Mark Russell, 61, was accused of raping and holding a 17-year-old male against his will while allegedly impersonating a police officer. The allegations came to light after another teen alleged Russell had done the same thing to him the year before.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit found Russell at his home after Monday's court hearing. A decommissioned police car still sits at his home in Baker. 

"It's an old car," Russell said when asked about the old police unit. "Broke down. It's been sitting there for months now."

Russell was arrested on multiple sex crime allegations after a teen alleged Russell had oral and anal sex with him.

In 1993, he was convicted of oral sexual battery, molestation of a juvenile and aggravated oral sexual battery. He was required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after spending nearly a decade in prison on those charges.

Russell said he accepted responsibility for the 1993 crimes, but said everything that allegedly happened in was a lie.

"Cost me a lot of money," Russell said. "My dad had a hard time too. He ended up dying two and a half years ago. It hurt him, and he knew I was telling the truth. I could never lie to my dad."

District Attorney Hillar Moore said that, despite the lack of evidence, his office believes Russell broke the law.

"We believe in our victim," Moore said, noting that prosecutors don't believe they could prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. "It's unfortunate, but that's where we are based on the evidence."

Attorney Ron Haley, who represents Russell, said the state was still seeking to punish his client for what happened in the 1990s.

"The State of Louisiana filed a motion to dismiss all charges against Mr. Russell," Haley said. "This has been an over four-and-a-half-year legal battle to prove my client's innocence. I know my client did something wrong in the past, but that should not affect that person's future.

"We felt he was being prosecuted for what he did in the past and not what happened in this case," Haley said.

Russell attempted suicide when the new allegations came to light in 2018, which delayed his court proceedings. The District Attorney's office can bring up charges again if new evidence comes up.

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