CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A former youth pastor at Denton Bible Church in Texas, Robert Shiflet, was sentenced to just 33 months after he was accused of sexually abusing 14 young girls. This horrific miscalculation for child sex trafficking charges was less than the suggested 41 to 51 months and below the statutory maximum of 10 years on the first count, and 15 on the second count.
Denton is now free after his sentence was reduced further to 25 months for “good behavior.”
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President Judge Phil Ginn gave an analysis of gross negligence of the criminal justice system regarding this heinous crime:
“As Christian citizens of the United States, it is incumbent upon us to call upon our government to seek conformity to truth, fact, and reason. This should most assuredly be the case within our courts of law. For it was the judicial branch of government that was established by our forebearers to provide protections for us especially within the criminal justice system. The quality and consistency of impartial delivery of inherent fairness should apply, according to our Constitution, regardless of who the perpetrator of a crime may be.
“Unfortunately, these days, all too often this concept of justice is not applied uniformly, sometimes intentionally and sometimes by oversight or mistake. Whatever the reason when our justice system fails in any respect, we are diminished in a general sense as a people and a nation. That would be the case if a person is singled out for prosecution for similar actions that go unpunished when committed by others. Depending upon your political disposition, a prime example of this could be the various investigations currently underway regarding former President Trump. Another arguable instance could be when peaceful pro-life protestors are treated much more severely by federal law enforcement than those who turn to violence to show their support for abortion.
“The reverse situation can also be true. A case in point came to light this past week with the case of Robert Shiflet. The judge at the Shiflet’s sentencing hearing showed his disdain for the plea, yet he accepted it and imposed a wrongful, very minimal sentence. In retrospect the Assistant U. S. Attorney who put the plea bargain together now admits that it was a mistake. I can only come up with a one-word response to these shenanigans— ‘Outrageous!’ The plea bargain should have never been offered, and when presented to the judge, he should have exercised his discretion and torn it up and left the pieces laying on the courtroom floor to remind the prosecution to do their job. Obviously, none of this happened, and 14 young girls never received closure for the despicable and unspeakable acts committed against them. The fact that Mr. Shiflet was their youth pastor and stood in a place of authority both practically and spiritually when he committed these lascivious acts should have required the assurance of his never seeing the light of day again.
“We, at Southern Evangelical Seminary believe in forgiveness—forgiveness that not only comes from God but that which also is imparted from human to human. Make no mistake, however; our sense of forgiveness is far outweighed by what should be the surety of the punishment and consequences of criminal activity. This is particularly true when crimes are committed under the umbrella of one who holds himself out not only to be a Christian, but also a pastor. What Mr. Shiflet did is not an indiscretion; it is a crime, and it should have been treated with the justice that both the state and his victims deserve.
“One thing is certain, Mr. Shiflet is also under the jurisdiction of a much higher court where he will one day have to explain his actions. When that time comes, there will be no hiding place. The Scripture is clear in Numbers 32:23 when it admonishes all of mankind, ‘Be sure that your sin will find you out.’”