OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma pastor working overseas, who was arrested and accused of abusing children, has been set free.
Last month, Pastor Tom Randall, of World Harvest Ministries, was taken into custody in the Philippines after authorities raided his nursing home and orphanage in Bulacan.
Randall was accused of molesting as many as 30 children under his care.
He was also accused of sending orphaned girls to friends for sex.
As of early Monday morning, all of the charges were dropped.
Friends and family shared the news through Facebook saying, “All charges dropped. Tom Randall is free”
Supporters say the child abuse, human trafficking and molestation charges could have carried a death sentence.
Jim Woodward, a close friend of the family, says, “We knew that there was a possibility that there could be a fatal mistake.”
During the 22 days Randall was behind bars, Woodward kept up with his friend’s condition through e-mails and Facebook updates from Randall’s wife Karen.
“I don’t know that we got all the facts,” says Woodward. “But what you knew was Tom was surviving.”
Woodward is now wondering why officials suddenly freed Randall.
He says before Randall was arrested, he told him that there were people in the Philippines who didn’t like his Christian missionary work.
Randall worried he was “a wanted man.”
Woodward thinks the arrest might have been to scare him out of the country.
He said, “I’d be heading home and I’d never go back. I hope my good friend Tom Randall does the same.”
However, a recent update to the “Free Tom Randall” Facebook page indicated Randall couldn’t leave just yet.
According to Filipino news reports, the government shut down the orphanage.
Right now, Randall and others are searching for the children to make sure they are cared for before he heads home.
Woodward thinks Randall’s work is done in the Philippines and says it’s time for him to leave them behind.
He said, “I think they need to let it go. I think they do and that’s going to be the hardest thing for Tom Randall to do.”
While Randall is making efforts to find the children right now, friends say he will be on a plane and back in the states on Wednesday.
At the time of Randall’s arrest, two other orphanage officials were also taken into custody.
According to the Facebook page, there is still no word on whether charges will be dropped in their cases.