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Hudson — A pastor at Christ Community Chapel, 750 W. Streetsboro St. is being held in the Philippines on charges connected to a human trafficking case.
Tom Randall, who was hired in September as pastor at large, was arrested on undetermined charges Jan. 12 while in Manila doing missionary work, according to the Rev. Joe Coffey, lead pastor at the Hudson campus of Christ Community Chapel.
Randall, of Stow, has been a missionary to the Philippines for about 20 years, according to Coffey. Randall, along with two Filipino nationals, are being held in connection with a human trafficking case.
“He went over to the Philippines to do relief work for the typhoon and visit his orphanage,” Coffey said Jan. 16. “While he was at the orphanage, there were some allegations of misconduct [against him and] a couple of his workers.”
Coffey said he was told the allegations were investigated and “no problems” were found. However, a complaint was recently filed with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and Homeland Security and Randall was arrested, according to Coffey.
According to a report from Inquirer.net, a Filipino national news website, Randall was arrested for allegedly “abusing children.” The report states Toto Luchavez and Jake Luchavez were also arrested for alleged human trafficking.
“He is being held right now in Manila in a prison at NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] headquarters,” according to Coffey. “His hearing tomorrow [Jan. 17] is to see if they will drop the charges.”
Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s office was made aware of the situation by members of Coffey’s congregation.
“Senator Portman’s staff reached out to and spoke directly with Ambassador Cuisia, the Filipino Ambassador in Washington, regarding Tom Randall,” Michael Haidet, Portman’s deputy press secretary said Jan. 16. “Our office is continuing to work all diplomatic channels to investigate this situation.”
Haidet said Portman is concerned about Randall’s “declining health.”
“When our staff spoke with the Ambassador in Washington, he pledged to look into the situation, and we will continue to press for more information from his staff and our Embassy in Manila,” Haidet added. “We do not know all of the details of the situation, but are proceeding with the information that has been presented to us as we further investigate Mr. Randall’s detainment.”
Filipino officials could not be reached for comment.
Coffey explained the circumstances of Randall’s arrest in his blog Jan. 14.
“He went to the Philippines a month ago to spend time with the children of his orphanage and take some men from the States on a basketball trip they will be talking about for the rest of their lives,” Coffey wrote. “Tom has been arrested and at this moment sits in prison … Please join me in praying for my friend, Tom Randall.”
Church members started a “Free Tom Randall” Facebook page which has more than 11,300 likes since its Jan. 14 creation.
Randall has some access to his cell phone and has been in contact with Coffey.
“He has been a dear friend of mine for years and our people love him,” Coffey said. “He is the most remarkable guy I’ve ever been around.”
The church is continuing to pray for Randall and his wife, Karen.
“We are just praying that the truth would come out and justice would be done,” Coffey said. “And we are going to use this, as a church, to pray for people who are in prisons falsely all over the world.”