In a sermon last May, Tommy Nelson pastor, a renowned author and pastor at Denton Bible Church in North Texas, admitted that he became aware of the sexual assault committed by a former youth pastor in 2005.
During the ’90s, a series of disturbing events unfolded. Former junior high pastor Robert Shiflet had assaulted several young women.
It wasn’t until 2005 that Nelson, revealing this to his church, brought it to their attention.
According to Nelson, the church elders were aware of Shiflet’s inappropriate behavior, even though they didn’t witness it themselves.
Nelson described it as seeing smoke but not looking for fire.
One of Shiflet’s alleged victims, who accused Nelson of downplaying the church’s role in the abuse, recently came forward.
For decades, Nelson, who serves on the board of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds the title of Speaker Emeritus of the Song of Solomon Conference, has faced accusations of disregarding warning signs.
Who took the first step to expose Shiflet?
Initially, the woman shared her experience with Fox4 News in Dallas. When asked about Tommy Nelson Pastor’s statement from May, she called it “incredibly selfish and calloused.”
Identifying herself as “Deborah,” she emphasized the pastoral responsibility to shepherd the flocks of God.
She attributed the church’s systemic injustice not to any shortcomings on the part of Shiflet but rather to cult-like behavior and narcissistic egotism.
The harshness of her words is a reflection of the severity of the victims’ experiences.
Shiflet is currently serving a 33-month sentence for two counts of transferring a juvenile across state lines for unlawful s*xual behavior.
In support of their cause, The Roys Report is offering a complimentary copy of “The Ballot and the Bible” by Kaitlyn Schiess to donors contributing $30 or more.
Between 1996 and 2001, Shiflet was employed by Denton Bible Church.
From 2001 to 2003, he worked at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he led the youth ministry.
An independent investigation commissioned by Denton Bible Church uncovered “credible accounts” of at least 14 girls, 11 from Denton Bible and three from Fellowship Bible, who had suffered mistreatment at the hands of Shiflet.
Tommy Nelson Pastor case investigation
In, the independent investigation made public a five-page synopsis of its conclusions.
It revealed that youth workers had informed Denton Bible leadership (including Nelson) about Shiflet’s inappropriate behavior as early as 1999.
The summary claims that Shiflet was “observed regularly spending time alone with girls in his ministry,” which is against church doctrine.
They stated he “played with their hair and the back of their neck, gave them prolonged hugs, tickle(d) them repeatedly,” and cuddled with them on the couch in his home after his wife went to bed.
In 1999, the church reported that Shiflet engaged in inappropriate behavior towards a college intern.
This incident highlighted the need for addressing such misconduct and ensuring a safe environment for all individuals involved.
According to the story, church leaders contacted Shiflet and instructed him to apologize to the girl in writing, but he never sent the letter.
“Because of his pattern of being alone with girls and not focusing enough on ministering to the boys in his youth group,” the summary said, Denton Bible denying Shiflet a promotion in 2001.
Shiflet eventually departed Denton to assault many more young people as youth pastor at Fellowship Bible Church.
What was Tommy Nelson Pastor May’s statement?
Nelson stated in his May statement that he had sponsored Shiflet when he sought the church job in Arkansas, but he added, “No one had a clue.”
It was one of whom we were unaware until a church in Arkansas exposed his secret, sin, and criminality.
Nelson stated he was utterly unfamiliar with the term “pedophile” before 2005. He said that Shiflet’s defection was “the first time I’ve ever been used” in ministry and that Nelson had personally trained Shiflet.
The way Nelson framed the problem, according to Deborah, “felt like a blame shift.”
By neglecting to respond to the warning signs brought forth by victims and witnesses during Shiflet’s tenure at Denton, both Nelson and Denton Bible fell short of providing the necessary support to those affected.
It happened again in 2005 when Deborah and others went to the church.
The Roys Report asked Tommy Nelson Pastor and Denton Bible for their comment, but they never answered them.
What exactly happened?
Deborah claimed that Shiflet started grooming her when she was 13 or 14 in the late 1990s.
According to her, Shiflet was married with children in his late 20s or early 30s.
Because of his likeability, trustworthiness, and friendliness, both parents and leaders participated in Shiflet’s upbringing.
She claimed he was pretty physically inappropriate with her, calling her derogatory names and assuring her he loved her even though he never touched her in the genital area.
He drove her to and from school and even let her sleep.
She said to Fox4 News, “He treated me like I was my boyfriend. When he touched me inappropriately, he’d check in to ensure it was all right. If I gave in, he’d keep on doing them. And if I said no, he’d emotionally freeze me over.”
Deborah also noted that Shiflet taught the middle schoolers incorrect lessons about s*xuality and marriage by sharing intimate details of his wedding night.
She claimed that she initially told the officials of Denton Bible Church about her experiences with Shiflet in 2005 when she was 19 years old.
When Shiflet return to Denton from Arkansas?
Shiflet recently returned to Denton after leaving the Arkansas church in 2003 due to dismissal.
The Arkansas church reportedly dismissed Shiflet after he was seen kissing and groping a teenage girl on the thigh.
Deborah claimed that authorities from the Denton Bible Church confronted Shiflet and his wife about her accusations.
In 2005, Shiflet’s ordination was likewise canceled by the church.
Deborah mentioned that she provided assistance to a woman who experienced molestation by Shiflet during her teenage years in Arkansas in 2005.
She helped her come forward to authorities at Denton Bible about her abuse. Church officials did not notify law enforcement about the claims of abuse.
Deborah also claimed that the authorities never followed up to see how she and the other victim were doing. Deborah claims that in 2015, another victim disclosed themselves to Nelson.
When were Shiflet’s activities reported to the police?
In 2019, Deborah alerted the police about Shiflet’s activities, leading to the transfer of the case to the FBI.
As per Denton Bible, she also called the police on Shiflet.
Following a parent’s 2019 complaint that their daughter was “still struggling because of Shiflet’s abuse and the inaction of Denton Bible,” church officials hired an outside investigator.
The church retained experienced attorney and investigator Scott Fredericks to ascertain ” the scope of Shiflet’s abuse in our church, what was known about his conduct and when that knowledge was known, and how the church responded.”
When Shiflet was arrested?
Shiflet was arrested in June 2020 on suspicion of s*x offenses.
He admitted guilt on two counts of transporting a juvenile for s*xual activity in November 2020.
While at Denton Bible, Shiflet committed one of the crimes for which he pleaded guilty. In 1997, while chaperoning a school trip to Arkansas, Shiflet became involved in an incident with a girl of the same age.
He pleaded not guilty in court to “kissing and s*xually touching a girl over and under her clothing and telling her not to tell anyone what he had done.”
Shiflet’s guilty plea prompted Fredericks to launch his investigation. Over 40 persons, including victims, family members, staff, and elders, were interviewed by his team.
According to the article, they also looked over other documents totaling hundreds of pages.
The probe uncovered three “serious mistakes” on the part of Denton Bible leadership.
Shiflet did not adequately protect the youngsters. Additionally, their response lacked a strong focus on prioritizing the needs and well-being of the victims.
Finally, the cultural dynamics present at Denton Bible either contributed to or worsened these failures.