Man accused of fondling 11-year-old girl at church

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Investigators have arrested a man accused of fondling an 11-year-old girl at a North Charleston church.

The North Charleston Police Department charged 20-year-old Russell Joseph Smalls with lewd act on a minor.

On Sunday afternoon, officers responded to West Montague in reference to a possible sexual assault on a minor. The officer was told that the suspect was still on the scene, attempting to get away and the situation was turning into a fight.

Police say they met with the victim's father and Smalls, who appeared to be overly nervous, had trouble speaking and was observed to be hyperventilating. The father said he was attending church and his daughter was playing in the kids area.

According to the father, his daughter ran to him and said that Smalls touched and grabbed her inappropriately. The father said he then confronted the suspect who became irate and attempted to leave the church.

A police report states that the father was able to detain the suspect until police arrived.

The girl said when she first noticed Smalls, she immediately told him she did not want him to play with her. She then said she was standing on the wall and the suspect came up behind the victim and placed his hand on her buttocks and began moving his hand back and forth.

The victim said Smalls then grabbed her buttocks.

Smalls told officers that he knew the victim did not want to play with him. Smalls said that he was only playing with the boys and said he never touched the girl.

Police charged Smalls with lewd act on a minor and locked up at the Al Cannon Detention Center. Authorities say Smalls also has an active warrant out of North Charleston for simple possession of marijuana.

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