A transgender woman pleaded not guilty Friday to engaging in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy during a Columbus Recorder’s Court hearing.
Christopher Antwain Russell, 35, faces one felony count each of sodomy and child molestation stemming from alleged incidents in late February. Judge Mary Buckner ordered Russell held in the Muscogee County Jail on bonds totaling $20,000. If freed on bond, Russell was ordered to have no contact with the victim in person or through social media after concerns were raised by a Columbus police detective.
During the hearing, detective Valerie Holder testified that Russell and the teen met on social media sites and had sexual conversations.
The suspect told police that the teen said he was 18 years old and she told him about being transgender before they met.
During one encounter, the detective said the teen realized Russell was a male before engaging in a sexual act at the boy’s home off Woodruff Farm Road.
Russell was represented by attorney Clark Adams, who asked Holder if any physical evidence was collected in the case. The detective said none was collected.
The teen’s mother contacted police and showed pages from the social media sites between Russell and her son. The teen does not have a cellphone.
Outside the courtroom, the suspect’s childhood friend, Kanesha Collins of Columbus, described the charges as ridiculous and a mother who can’t accept that her son is gay. Russell didn’t testify during the hearing and there were no witnesses called.
Collins said Russell didn’t know the teen was 15. “If he had knew he was 15, it wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “I know because he has a good heart.”
In her hand, Collins held what appeared to be pages of conversations between Russell and the teen on social media. The sites included Tagged and Kik but she noted that many conversations recently have been deleted.
“If you are gay, you are gay,” Collins said. “I’m just with my friend. I’m going to do whatever I can. If I have to find people who know him, I want them to come forward and help. This is ridiculous.”