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Last year, Rob Shiflet, a former youth pastor at Denton Bible Church in Texas who had been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse, was sentenced to 33 months in prison for sexually assaulting two girls on church trips. He’ll be released next April and have to register as a sex offender.

That allegations that became public in 2019 prompted the church to do its own investigation. (Were there other victims? How did everyone miss all the potential red flags? Who knew what… and when?) And this past May, Pastor Tommy Nelson announced the results of that third-party investigation: It was even worse than anyone suspected.

Shiflet had allegedly abused 14 girls (including 11 at Denton Bible). His actions ranged from “grooming behavior and sexual harassment to criminal sexual abuse, abuse of power, and spiritual abuse.” The biggest issue in the report, however, was that church leaders didn’t seriously take action into the matter until 2019. While they had heard troubling stories long before then, the most they had done was confront him directly. One time, they asked him to write an apology letter to a child… which he didn’t do. In 2005, they revoked his ordination, a punishment that means next to nothing outside his church bubble. (He was still able to get a job at another church after that.)

They never went to law enforcement.

Nelson’s report in May, summarizing the investigation, admitted the church failed to recognize the warning signs, didn’t prioritize care for the victims, and created an environment where abuse could thrive… but all of that was a superficial apology. It suggested everyone was doing everything they could, but they simply didn’t know any better.

Now one of the victims has spoken with FOX 4 in order to talk about the church’s failures.

“You know what frustrates me the most about this story? Is the number of times we’ve been told, ‘We did not know what to do,’” the victim said. “I don’t have words for that. I don’t think you need a seminary degree to know what to do. You need to do the right thing. Take care of the victims and report to police and [Child Protective Services].

One of the bombshells? The church said it had refused to give Shiflet a role as high school pastor in 2001 “because of his pattern of being alone with girls.” Months later, he found a new job as youth pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Arkansas. The May letter revealed that no information about Shiflet’s time at Denton was shared with his new church.

In fact, the victim says, Nelson recommended him.

In other cases, when victims told their stories to Denton Bible leaders, they were not relayed to the police. While the law didn’t require it at the time, it’s still a massive failure of ethics. The bottom line is that church leaders knew this guy was doing inappropriate and sometimes criminal things. Rather than turn that information over to secular authorities who could have intervened, they took it upon themselves to dish out some faith-based justice… which did absolutely nothing of value.

Because of their negligence, Shiflet continued abusing little girls.

It wasn’t until two victims finally reported his crimes to the cops in 2019 that he was finally arrested. (Even then, the judge said the prison sentence both sides agreed to in a plea deal was far too lenient.)

Just because the justice system didn’t go far enough, however, is no excuse for church leaders to have looked the other way for as long as they did. As we’ve seen time and time again, Christian churches are incapable of policing themselves. Families attend those churches at their own peril. While the pastors at Denton Bible didn’t give a damn about what the victims had to say for nearly two decades, perhaps one of them sharing her story in the media will help people realize how much danger their kids are in if they attend a church with no set policies in place to handle abuse.

It’s irresponsible for anyone to assume a Christian leader holds any kind of ethical or moral standard. In so many cases, it’s that Christian label that prevents them from doing the right thing.

How many children have to be abused before leaders in these churches get a clue? How many lives have to be ruined before Christian families decide they’ve had enough?

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.