ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Investigators believe a former Bethany College professor wanted for rape and other sex crimes against children has fled the country.
Belmont County Sheriff's Department Capt. Ron Everett confirmed Friday that deputies have not yet arrested Richard Rushton, 61, of Flushing. A warrant for his arrest on two counts of rape of a child under age 10, two counts of sexual battery and one count of gross sexual imposition was issued nearly two months ago on Nov. 8. It remains on file at the sheriff's office and has not been served.
The warrant stipulates Rushton is to be held in lieu of $1 million bond if taken into custody.
"He has not been arrested yet," Everett said. "It is our understanding that he is out of the country and that he has legal counsel."
Rushton failed to appear in November for a scheduled court date in Belmont County Western Division Court, according to Detective Doug Cruse. The accusations against Rushton reportedly involve multiple victims, but details of the alleged crimes have not been released.
Everett declined to speculate whether county officials would attempt to arrest and extradite Rushton from another nation if he does not return to the United States. Belmont County Prosecutor Christopher Berhalter has not responded to calls seeking comment on the case.
Bethany College's website previously stated Rushton was an assistant professor of education and chairman of the Department of Education, as well as director of Teacher Preparation Programs and faculty adviser for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.
Rushton is no longer listed among the faculty on Bethany's website.