HUDSON, Ohio - Nearly 15,000 supporters of a Hudson-based pastor working overseas have rallied to his defense on Facebook as he faces serious charges.
Tom Randall, who lives in Stow and works part-time at a Hudson church, has been detained by authorities in the Philippines and charged with human trafficking, according to the Nordonia Hills News Leader.
A former chaplain for the PGA tour in Oklahoma, Randall went to the Philippines to check on an orphanage he helped start and to provide relief after a devastation typhoon hit the country, his defenders say.
The trouble started, according to a blog post by Randall's friend Joe Coffey, when a rival missionary made accusations against Randall that sparked a lengthy investigation by "the Philippine version of Child Services and the FBI."
Though he was cleared in that investigation, Randall was arrested because, Coffey writes, "a single man with a vendetta"--the rival missionary--went to officials at the U.S. Embassy and Homeland Security.
Jim Woodward, who met Randall in Oklahoma, in an interview with KFOR-TV, said, "He once told me there was people that didn’t like him there, that wanted him dead. I always said, 'Why do you go back?' That’s how strongly he felt about those children.”
A Philippines publication, The Inquirer, says locals remember Randall playing professional basketball there.
According to the Facebook page set up to support the imprisoned pastor--"Free Tom Randall"--he had a hearing Friday at 3 p.m. in the Philippines, which is 2 a.m. in Ohio.
No word yet on the outcome of the hearing but Randall could have all his charges dropped.
Check back with Newsnet5 for updates as information becomes available.