“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” Napoleon Bonaparte
Earlier this week, I wrote the deeply disturbing post: Song of Solomon Sexpert, Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church, Who Never Heard the Word’ Pedophile’ Until 2005, Overlooked the Sex Abuse of Students
In this post, we learned that the church knew about Shiflet’s predilections and chose to overlook them, presumably because the pastor, Tommy Nelson, had NEVER heard the word “pedophile” until 2005 when he was forced to deal with Shiflet’s behavior. As I said in that post, I don’t believe Tommy Nelson primarily because I sat through his “Song of Solomon series” and knew that he considered himself an expert on the Biblical view of sex.
Diversion alert: One perceptive reader commented that she never paid attention to the Song of Solomon because Solomon had 900 hundred wives and 200 concubines. Nelson explained this, but I didn’t buy it back then and still do not. It went something like this.
This points to the fact that the Song of Solomon is the story of Solomon’s first marriage, before he sinned by adding many other wives (1 Kings 11:3). Whoever the Shulammite was, she was Solomon’s first and truest love.
The transcript of the sentencing hearing of Robert Shiflet
Todd should be a court reporter. He sent me the transcript from the sentencing of Robert Shiflet on 6/22/21. Here is a link to the PDF for those of you who are like Todd and me and love to scour such documents.
We will be quoting directly from the transcript for the rest of this post. Todd and I want to point out a few concerning things in the transcript and will follow it up with the testimony of some victims.
Shiflet had a plea deal, and his defense attorney said his parents bankrolled his attorney and court fees but they were now financially strapped.
would we argue against imposing a fine? Yes. why?
Because he still has a lot of financial obligations. I will
tell you this that Mr. Shiflet did not hire me and cover my
fee. It was his family, his parents, that did that, because
they didn’t have the money to do it. so that’s not reflected
in that as well; that his family, his parents, have put
together the $140,000 to help him out.
They, in and ofthemselves, don’t have the funds to satisfy a large fine
Why a plea deal (33 months)?
This case went back over 20 years, and there was not enough hard evidence. Shiflet pled guilty to two counts of molestation. The judge was frustrated with the 33 months sentence, but there wasn’t much he could do following the plea deal. He expressed his frustration in the following.
I have to worry about general deterrence.nAt least in mymind, this is amongthe very worst crimes one can commit.
In terms of just the conduct that Mr. shiflet pled guilty to, it’s among the worst crimes that one can commit.
And it’s among thecrimes that probably have the longest term psychological effect on its victims,
of any I know, perhaps save murder. And certainly as to the related offense conduct that’s in the
presentence report, it gets even worse than the specific crimeso which Mr. Shiflet pled quilty to.
Part of what I need to do is make sure that other people don’t do this.How in the world is 33 months
telling people who might commit a crime like this, who are in a position of authority
over their victims like Mr. Shiflet was, telling them that they might get 33 months how in the world does that
deter them from doing something as heinous as this?
He asked each victim if this sentence would help them get on with their lives. (This judge appeared compassionate and victims centered.) Here is what one victim answered.
THE COURT: If I accept the plea, will you go home
7 satisfied and feel like justice was served and that you can get
8 on with your life?
9 MS. LACY: I think any measure of justice was more
10 than I hoped for whenever this investigation started. My life
11 will never be normal regardless of what you decide today.
12 THE COURT: Okay. Thank you very much.
The victims knew that if they did not accept the sentence, Shiflet’s plea would be removed, and they would go to trial. They assented to the ruling.
There were many letters of support for Shiflet, and the judge would not release them to the public. Why?
THE COURT: And I should say for the record that I have read all of the letters that have been submitted,
and I’m going to make sure they are part of the record.
I will put them in the correspondence file. so they will be available to
the parties but not the public, unless anybody has any objection to that.
MS. BRYANT: No, Your Honor.
Mr. Ross, do you have an objection to that?
MR. ROSS:No objection, Your Honor.
His defense team used those letters to get a good plea deal.
And what we have supplied to the Court is a considerable amount of character letters
and support letters that cover an extended period of time that show what Mr. Shiflet has been
about over the last 15, 20 years and his conduct. And thatthere hasn t been any inclination
there hasn”t been any otherreports of any inappropriate behavior over this period of time.
And that he’s taken that time to, you know, continue to strengthen his family.His kids are grown
Todd and I are suspicious that some of those support letters came from Denton Bible Church members and leaders since that is a pattern we have noticed and written about. In this case, Todd has written the judge to ask him to reconsider releasing those letters of support. In the meantime, I wonder if the victims in this trial might be amenable to viewing those letters and letting us know if the church wrote letters in support of their abuser.
Shiflet’s brother was also accused of pedophilia, raising questions.
THE COURT: All you need to do is say whatever you were going to say but just say it to me.
You must be well aware now that Robert Shiflet. sr. both of his sons have been accused of
pedophile behavior. I wonder how both of his sons turned out to be this way,
I wonder were they also abused as children.Rob and his brother Tom were caught by their uncle
watching pornography together as young men.Tom said that it was given to him by his father.
whatever demonic stronghold to sexual addiction,pornographv, and child abuse going on in our home needs to
stop and be broken. All of vou a11 of them need to come clean, including your wives in their denial.
The victims address the Court and Shiflet.
If you only have time to read one, get to the final address by Kristine Lavalle. She was the one who reported Shiflet to Denton Bible Church. These testimonies stand on their own. You will learn much about victims and their strength to go on if you read them all. They are my heroes.
Brittany Lacy addresses Shiflet.
MS. LACY: My name is Brittany Lacy. I first want to
8 thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today.
9 Believe it or not, this is a very sad occasion for me. There
10 are no winners here. Today, you face the consequences of this
11 in your life, but the victims you’ve hurt have already paid a
12 very high price.
13 I am less trusting of others. I doubt that other’s
14 motives and intentions are pure. I am less likely to believe
15 that people are innately good. You have affected my ability to
16 be intimate with others and not just physically. I tend to be
17 guarded because someone I trusted hurt me in a way that left
18 permanent scars.
19 I believed you when you told me you loved me in the purest
20 sense. I believed you when you said you couldn’t love me any
21 more if I was your own daughter. I believed that that is what
22 a father’s love looked like. It took me years to untangle all
23 of those lies.
24 I loved you like a dad. I would have done anything you
25 asked. You knew that, and you used those lies to exploit me
1 for your own selfish gain.
2 After I reported you to the church, you blamed me and have
3 continued to do so. I carried that responsibility for a long
4 time, but I won’t anymore.
5 I was a kid. You were my pastor, a father figure, and you
6 used that position to manipulate and exploit me. Even if you
7 are remorseful, you can never grasp the depth of the damage
8 you’ve caused to me, to the other women you’ve hurt, to our
9 families, to your own family.
10 It might surprise you to know that my reason for coming
11 forward never came from a place of resentment, bitterness,
12 anger, or even hatred towards you. I spent many years
13 struggling with those feelings. But by God’s grace and with
14 his help I forgave you a long time ago.
15 I feel like God has been very patient with you. He has
16 given you multiple opportunities over the years to repent of
17 this sin in your life. He has confronted you in the form of
18 friends, counselors, the church, and the law enforcement.
19 Unfortunately, I truly believe we’ve reached a critical
20 point when someone has to intervene. You really can’t control
22 (The court reporter interrupted.)
23 THE COURT: Ma’am, I know you’re nervous. Anybody
24 would be in your situation. It’s just we’ve got to make sure
25 we got a good record.
1 MS. LACY: I truly believe we’ve reached a critical
2 point when someone has to intervene. You really can’t control
3 yourself. I don’t say that to relieve you of any
4 responsibility for your actions. I do feel at this point that
5 the most merciful thing that can be done is to put you in a
6 position where you can’t hurt anyone else. If I can save one
7 victim, then this was all worth it to me. And believe it or
8 not, it hasn’t been easy.
9 I would like to say that your victims, they are some of
10 the bravest, most encouraging, Christ-centered ladies that I
11 have ever had the pleasure of knowing. That is a testament to
12 their strength but even more so it is a testament to God’s
13 redemptive grace working in our lives. Only he can heal the
14 wounds you caused.
15 Before you brought it up, I also put in there, Your Honor,
16 if I may, I respectfully ask that you consider the full measure
17 of Mr. Shiflet’s offenses when you hand down his sentence
Hayley Rigden addresses Shiflet
MS. RIGDON: I want to begin by saying I forgive you,
1 not because you have asked for my forgiveness or even deserve
2 it, but I will continue to choose forgiveness over bitterness.
3 I don’t think I ever let myself believe that you would actually
4 face consequences for what you did to me almost 25 years ago.
5 Sometimes I wonder if you really thought you were in the
6 clear and had everyone in your life duped. I trusted that the
7 Lord would be the vindicator, and I am so thankful that you
8 have now been exposed as the predator you are.
9 You dropped into my world and my family’s home on the
10 night of my 13th birthday party. Looking back, you started
11 grooming all of us day one. You made sure to target the people
12 surrounding me, my most trusted gatekeepers. You perverted
13 what I believe the Lord gave you as God-given gifts to be used
14 for his glory and had put you in a position of disciple making.
15 Instead, you chose to use these sacred gifts for
16 manipulation and exploitation. You cruelly abused your
17 position, and you used it to be a selfish and evil predator to
18 many young women.
19 The fact that — the fact that you chose to leave teaching
20 me about God and helping me grow more deeply in my faith and
21 doing it with the intention to gain all of my trust to abuse
22 me, psychologically and physically, is beyond my comprehension.
23 You tried to convince me that I had fault and ownership in what
24 you did to me. You were relentless.
25 Your calculated choices to be this predator has had a
1 ripple effect way beyond me. You groomed and lied to all the
2 people around me so strategically, and I know that they are
3 dealing with the pain of not being able to protect all of us
4 from you.
5 I’ve had to forgive 14-year-old Hayley for not speaking up
6 when you molested me. I wish more than anything that I could
7 have protected all of those girls that you hurt after me. I
8 know without a doubt that I did nothing to deserve or invite
9 this into my life. No one is responsible for what happened
10 except for you.
11 I do believe that Melissa stood silently and complicitly
12 and did nothing to protect us, but you are the predator. I did
13 not know that the psychological consequences would last this
14 long. I have come to learn that, despite walking through great
15 counseling, that my brain and nervous system would continue to
16 be impacted to this day. The trauma that you caused in my
17 young life rewired my developing brain to involuntary
18 self-protect and be hypervigilant for any perceived threat,
19 among other things.
20 I know that more healing is possible over time, but this
21 physiological and emotional damage has caused suffering that
22 lasted well beyond the events of your abuse.
23 I am so thankful for the healing that I have experienced
24 and for the beautiful life and family that God has given me.
25 God has remained so faithful to me.
1 My prayer is that your heart will be softened before the
2 Lord and true repentance comes. I have no wish for harm in
3 your life, but I do pray justice is served for the decades of
4 trauma and pain that you have caused.
5 I want to thank Jerry Spurgers and Kristin Bryant and
6 their teams for taking on our case and getting us to this
7 monumental point today.
Kyle Rigden, Hayley’s husband, gives a poignant address to Shiflet
I did not prepare a written letter. I
8 actually decided to speak today, and so forgive me. It may not
9 be as polished as Brittany and Hayley.
10 Rob, you’ve never met me. But I met Hayley ten years ago,
11 and it was the greatest gift of my life. What I can tell you
12 is that you stole from my wife. And what I’ve come to find out
13 since is that you’ve stolen from a whole lot more people than
14 just my wife.
15 I don’t know how many letters you submitted today, but I
16 am very grateful for your sake that we’re in Arkansas because,
17 if we were in our hometown, this courtroom would be packed full
18 of character witnesses on the other side of your cube letters.
19 Your Honor, I completely agree that the way that we’re
20 speaking about what happened to these girls so many years ago
21 is unfair.
22 The same way that you stole from them was unfair. The
23 sentencing process is unfair. Twenty years goes by, it doesn’t
24 change the crime. It doesn’t change what you’ve robbed from
1 What I can tell you is, in the happiest moments of our
2 marriage, our child being born, the day that we got married,
3 monumental parts of our life, you have some way of creeping
4 into these ladies’ minds.
5 And so whatever happens today with sentencing, my hope and
6 my prayer is that you have nothing but time to think about your
7 actions, the way that it’s affected them, the same way that
8 what you did to them haunts them to this day, even after hours
9 and hours and hours of counseling and processing this with
10 friends and seeing pastors, and the list goes on and on, as you
11 can imagine. The same way that this haunts us consistently for
12 the last ten years and for them 25-plus years ago, I hope that
13 this haunts you in the quiet of a cell, haunts you the same way
14 that it’s haunted them in their lows and in their highs.
15 Whatever happens today will be unfair. What I do pray for
16 you is that the Lord absolutely wrecks your heart in the midst
17 of those quiet times because you and I both know that this
18 courtroom has nothing on what the Lord can do when he gets
19 ahold of somebody’s heart. That’s all, Your Honor
Finally, Kristine Lavalle, who reported this to Denton Bible Church addressed Shiflet
Rob, we’re all here today because you chose to sexually
6 abuse, molest, rape, manipulate, spiritually and emotionally
7 abused teenage girls. You stole childhood innocence for your
8 own sexual fulfillment.
9 I am the brave 19-year-old girl who told her counselor at
10 Ditton Bible about your power, abuse against me. I also
11 invited Brittany to Texas to tell her story. Had religious
12 leaders not covered for you and the church and Liberty
13 Christian School, you could have been arrested 15 years ago.
14 I told the police how you took advantage of my emotional
15 and physical boundaries as a 13-year-old girl. You rubbed your
16 feet up and down my legs under the dinner table while I was
17 paralyzed to say anything in front of your wife. Your tickled
18 me and didn’t stop when I told you to. You made me lay down
19 with you on the couch while you wrapped your arms and legs
20 around me after your wife went to sleep.
21 You forced your hands on my neck, sides, lower back, and
22 face, and you whispered in my ears — you told me you loved me.
23 You asked me if your touch was okay, and you iced me out
24 emotionally if I said, “No.”
25 Manipulation, spiritual and emotional manipulation. You
1 are the very man who taught me textbook purity culture about
2 dating, marriage, physical touch, sex, turn — and you turned
3 out to be sexually abusing teenage girls in my youth group at
4 the same time. This breaks the very heart of God.
5 Your selfish criminal behavior caused me years of trauma,
6 tears, anxiety, depression, grief, questioning, money for hours
7 of counseling, medical leave from my job, hours on the phone
8 talking to other victims, my family, lawyers, police, and the
9 FBI. What an absolute waste of my time and energy, an absolute
10 waste — I’m sorry.
because you wanted sexual
13 gratification from children. Instead of addressing your sexual
14 brokenness, you indulged yourself, and you hid.
15 Unfortunately, it took the teenagers you abused to grow up
16 into adult women in our thirties to call the police on you.
17 You’re a pathological liar, a sex offender, a federal prisoner,
18 and incredibly selfish.
19 You will have plenty of time in jail to repent, reflect,
20 and be real with yourself and God about what you have done
21 should you choose to. You lied to your wife. You lied to your
22 parents. You lied to your children. You lied to all of us,
23 the community of Ditton Bible Church and Liberty Christian
24 School. You lied. You’re a threat to society and not a safe
1 To your father, Robert Shiflet, your oldest son Tom
2 recently admitted to sexually abusing his cousin when she was
3 ages three to six years old. You must be well aware that both
4 of your sons have been accused of pedophile behavior.
5 MR. ROSS: Your Honor, I’m going to object to any
6 addressing of the father in this.
7 THE COURT: Why don’t you address the Court.
8 MS. LAVALLE: To the Court, it must be well aware
9 that Robert Shiflet’s —
10 THE COURT: It’s okay. Take your time. It’s fine.
11 MS. LAVALLE: Like just another casual day in
13 THE COURT: All you need to do is say whatever you
14 were going to say but just say it to me.
15 MS. LAVALLE: Okay. You must be well aware now that
16 Robert Shiflet, Sr. — both of his sons have been accused of
17 pedophile behavior. I wonder how both of his sons turned out
18 to be this way. I wonder were they also abused as children.
19 Rob and his brother Tom were caught by their uncle
20 watching pornography together as young men. Tom said that it
21 was given to him by his father.
22 Whatever demonic stronghold to sexual addiction,
pornography, and child abuse going on in your home needs to
24 stop and be broken. All of you — all of them need to come
25 clean, including your wives in their denial.
1 Melissa, I also hold you responsible for this mess. You
2 have kept silent and turned a blind eye to your husband’s
3 pattern of pedophilia. Why did you get up and go to sleep and
4 leave me alone with your husband in the living room when I was
5 a teenage girl. I managed to get away that night and laid
6 awake so anxious I could vomit, fearing I would be raped if I
7 fell asleep. I was traumatized.
8 Over and over his pattern continued. Where were you?
9 What did you do to confront it? What negligence on your behalf
10 not to call out your husband and save teenage girls from his
11 oppression, especially Brittany. You have continued to stand
12 by your husband after multiple confrontations by the church,
13 police detectives investigating your home and your family, and
14 you continued, till date, to stand by him like you are today
15 sticking up for him. Your husband is a criminal. It’s time
16 for you to wake up. You are part of the problem.
17 Quite frankly, I wish nothing to hear from your family.
18 Your denial would only add insult to injury. I don’t even
19 think it’s fair to really hear Rob’s side at this point, unless
20 he’s confessing his guilt. You’ve desecrated the church, the
21 name of God as a pastor, and you are a wolf in sheep’s
23 I am choosing to forgive you for the abuse, pain, and
24 suffering you have caused me because Jesus has forgiven me. I
25 cancel the debt you owe me by the blood of Jesus and release
1 you from how badly you’ve hurt me whether you are repentant or
3 Legally, you are responsible for the crimes you’ve
4 committed and the punishment you deserve consequently. The
5 trauma you’ve caused cannot be undone.
6 Jesus alone heals me and stands with me in righteous
7 anger. I can only imagine how he feels compared to the amount
8 of righteous anger I feel against you.
9 I beg God’s mercy on your lives to convict you of your
10 sin, to bring confession, repentance, and healing for all of
12 This is my story of redemption: forgiving you and finding
13 healing from all the damage you have done. Jesus gets all the
14 glory he is due, and no one will steal his joy from me.
15 I am almost done.
16 THE COURT: No. Take your time.
17 MS. LAVALLE: Okay. Today ends. I’ve been waiting
18 for this day 20 years. Today ends a dark era that has followed
19 me for 20 years. Hopefully, today ends. Let some Earthly
20 justice be served, and we will celebrate it.
21 I slept so soundly the day that you got arrested. I
22 haven’t slept that well since I was 13, knowing that you were
23 put away, to my knowledge, away from society, away from
24 tormenting other teenage girls.
25 I am so proud of myself and all the victims for our
1 bravery and encouraged to be resilient and share our story.
2 I feel incredibly privileged — I feel incredibly
3 privileged to have a government that believed us and pursued
4 justice on our half — our behalf. It only took two hard,
5 exhausting years to complete.
6 Even to stand up here today and to say our final thoughts
7 is so empowering and vulnerable. These were the most
8 exhausting, emotionally draining, upsetting, infuriating,
9 disgusting, annoying, disappointing, retraumatizing, and
10 successful years of my life.
11 Your Honor, I besiege you on behalf of the victims, our
12 communities, and the law to commit Rob Shiflet for the greatest
13 amount of jail time possible. He’s been confronted multiple
14 times and denied it or found a way out of legal prosecution for
16 Let this be an example to the global church. You cannot
17 silence the voice of childhood victims of sexual abuse because
18 you’re afraid, value fame over honesty, are uneducated or
19 passive about what to do. This negligence left the door open
20 for more children to be abused in the last 15 years. That is
21 completely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.
22 I imagine if there are more victims after Brittany, maybe
23 even Rob’s children or their friends, I hope they will find
24 their voices and use them one day, too. He is a repeat
25 offender with a pattern of behavior that has not been exposed
1 until now. He is a threat to society and women of all age —
3 Thank you, Your Honor, for your diligence in this case and
4 for hearing me today because this story matters very much.