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Reports: SGC Pastor Jailed Amid Investigation into Sexual Abuse of 13-Year-Old

By Sarah Einselen
tusing georgia pastor
Georgia pastor Russell Tusing has been arrested on preliminary charges stemming from a child abuse investigation. (Photo: Troup County Detention Center)

Authorities have jailed a Georgia pastor in the Sovereign Grace Churches network on preliminary charges stemming from a child abuse investigation, reports indicate.

Russell Jon Tusing II, 44, is being held without bond in the Troup County Detention Center on a felony charge of child molestation and a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery, according to jail records.

After Tusing’s arrest last Friday, police told the LaGrange Daily News that Tusing pastors Sovereign Grace Church of LaGrange, a small city southwest of Atlanta, along the border with Alabama.

The church is one of more than 130 congregations affiliated with Sovereign Grace Churches. Tusing is no longer listed on the local church’s website, which previously stated he “has faithfully served as the lead pastor” since 2011, cached results on search engines show.

Tusing was appointed the church’s pastor in August 2011 after a period as interim pastor there. But his status at the church now is unclear. Sermon archives show the church has had guest speakers all month.

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Russell Tusing speaks at Sovereign Grace Church of LaGrange, Georgia, in a photo from March 2016. (Photo: Facebook)

The Roys Report (TRR) reached out to the church for comment but did not immediately hear back (see updated statement below). It’s unclear whether Tusing has an attorney who could speak for him.

The preliminary charges arose from a report made to police in late February, local media indicate. Police reportedly accuse Tusing of crimes involving a 13-year-old in 2022. Authorities have released limited information in order to protect the teen’s identity, TV station WRBL reported.

Tusing has not been indicted so far. Police are still compiling the case file for review by the district attorney’s office, Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herb Cranford told TRR in an email. That has to happen before it could be presented to a grand jury for indictment.

Russell Tusing (Photo: Sovereign Grace Church)

The Troup County Grand Jury usually meets once a month, Cranford said. But once his office receives it, he said, it could take some time to finish reviewing the case, so he said he couldn’t predict when prosecutors might decide to present it to the grand jury.

Sovereign Grace Church of LaGrange did not answer TRR’s questions about whether the church was involved in reporting the allegations against Tusing to police. TRR also asked whether the church is taking steps to protect children in its congregation such as commissioning a third-party investigation.

The Sovereign Grace Churches network, previously named Sovereign Grace Ministries, and its founder C. J. Mahaney have for years denied allegations that the network systematically covered up sexual abuse. In 2012, the allegations were laid out in a lawsuit against the network’s flagship congregation at the time, but the suit was dismissed on procedural grounds.

The network later pushed back on calls for a third-party investigation into its handling of abuse reports, calling such a move “impossible.”

Update: After this report was published, TRR received the following statement from the Sovereign Grace Church of LaGrange Leadership Team:

“On March 14, 2024, Russell Tusing was arrested and charged with sexual battery and child molestation. We are both shocked and grieved by the nature of these charges. Upon learning of the allegations, we immediately ensured that it had been reported to the proper authorities and suspended Russell Tusing from his duties as pastor. He is not permitted to attend meetings, functions, or gatherings of the church during the pending judicial process and investigation.

We have been and are actively working and complying with the authorities. We would ask that if anyone has any knowledge or information related to these charges that they please report them to the authorities. We are seeking to limit discussion of details in respect of the ongoing investigation by local authorities.  

We take child safety very seriously and our top priority is the protection of children. We are grieved by these events and are working to determine what steps should be taken going forward.”

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.



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