News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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December 15, 2012

Investigators talk with another child in abuse case

TERRE HAUTE — Another alleged child victim has been interviewed by investigators in the case of two former foster parents who face multiple allegations of neglect and abuse toward children in their care.

Terre Haute Police Assistant Chief Shawn Keen stated Friday that the child, who had been in the care of Larry and Nikki Russell from 2008 to 2009, told police he had suffered abuse similar to that described by the children removed Nov. 23 from the Russell’s North 12th Street home.

The child’s statements came soon after the arrest of the Russells.

Keen told the Tribune-Star that investigators encountered resistance when they requested records about that child and other children from the Vigo County office of the Department of Child Services. That resistance led police to request a court-issued search warrant executed Monday at the local DCS office.

“It’s the first time I know of that we have ever had to obtain a search warrant to obtain information” on DCS cases, the assistant chief said. “We have always had a good working relationship.”

Keen said that investigators want to identify any other children who had been placed in the care of the Russells and who could be witnesses to or additional victims of abuse.

“As the time frame expands, the sole focus of this investigation is to ensure that we have identified any and all victims of this alleged abuse, and ensure that all witnesses and corroborating evidence is discovered, and presented in accordance with the law,” Keen said. “The victims must be the number one priority.”

Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said Friday that no additional charges have been filed against the Russells related to the alleged victim who came forward after the couple’s arrest. However, additional charges could be filed in the future.

The Russells were arrested Nov. 23 after one of their adopted children escaped the family’s North 12th Street home and sought help for his siblings. Both Larry and Nikki Russell remain in the Vigo County Jail with bail set at $100,000 cash only.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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