Apple Valley dad accused of posing as a woman to get close to teen

  • Article by: Chao Xiong
  • Star Tribune
  • April 16, 2014 - 2:10 PM

A 44-year-old Apple Valley man created a fake identity to befriend his daughter’s 18-year-old friend who had a restraining order against him, according to charges filed Monday.

Robert R. Russell posed as Jessica Rosemary to communicate with the teen on Tumblr and Facebook. He faces one count of violation of a harassment restraining order in Ramsey County District Court.

Russell used a random residential address in Mason City, Iowa, as Jessica’s home and drove there to send the woman a package, the complaint said.

Russell said Wednesday that he created the fake identity because he was worried about the woman’s well-being. He said he did have feelings for the woman, but worked to resolve them when the restraining order was filed.

“The things I wrote to her were terribly inappropriate,” he said.

According to the complaint: The woman became friends with Russell’s daughter in 2012. Russell “eventually professed that he had feelings for [her] beyond friendship.”

In September 2013, a judge signed a harassment restraining order barring Russell from having contact with the woman through September 2015.

On Oct. 1, 2013, a person claiming to be Jessica contacted the woman on Tumblr. The two began talking, and on Oct. 11 the woman e-mailed “Jessica,” who also requested to be friends on Facebook.

Jessica provided the woman a phone number with an Iowa area code and a Mason City address. Jessica mailed gifts, including a stuffed animal, clothes, a Valentine’s Day card and chocolates, to the woman’s home in Maplewood. The woman sent a Christmas card and a package to Jessica in Mason City.

This January, the woman witnessed a car accident and called Jessica to talk, the charges said. Russell answered and the woman thought he was Jessica’s father. Russell insisted that he was Jessica. The two spoke for a few minutes until the woman realized it was Russell, the complaint said.

Russell admitted to police that he created the false identity because he loved the woman and her absence caused him panic attacks, the complaint said. The complaint said Russell bought a phone with the Iowa area code and had calls forwarded to his cellphone. He picked an Iowa address for Jessica, and arranged with the real homeowners to pick up packages the woman sent to their home.

“He called them saying his daughter had mistakenly sent the package to their address,” the complaint said.

Russell said Wednesday that he was having panic attacks before the restraining order, and that he no longer loved the woman when he was communicating with her as Jessica. He also said that he didn’t buy a phone; he created a phone number with an Iowa area code using Google voice.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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