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Monday, February 20, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Sex Offender Caught in Church

Murphysboro, IL - A registered sexual predator was caught by police in a Murphysboro church, and now 40 year old Russell Bryant faces new criminal charges. But Bryant's troubles with the law began long before his arrest in late November.

Court documents in the Jackson County courthouse show that back in 2001 Bryant was charged with sexually assaulting a girl between the ages of 13 and 16. He plead guilty to those charges and was sentenced to 24 months probation and required to register as a sexual predator.

Now Bryant is facing charges of having unlawful contact with children in the Elm Street Baptist Church. A violation of his requirements under the Illinois Sex Offender Act.

Sources within the church tell Heartland News that they've witnessed Bryant acting inappropriately with children in the church and told church leaders about what they saw. These sources say the church leaders told them they knew about Bryant's previous criminal record, but that they didn't feel that he was doing anything wrong within the church.

Heartland News tried to speak with the pastor of Elm Street Baptist Church, but he refused to comment on Bryant's alleged wrong doings, or the current criminal charges filed against him.

The Illinois State Police tell Heartland News they are investigating Bryant's activities at the church.

Bryant is due back in a Jackson County courtroom on December 19th for a preliminary hearing. He's currently out of jail on a $25,000 bond.