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Victims testify ex-Fairfax pastor molested them

Two men who say they were molested by former Christian pastor Tommy Shelton when he oversaw a church in Fairfax County in the 1990s testified Thursday that Shelton abused them when he was alone with them, and five felony sex charges against Shelton were sent to the Fairfax grand jury for possible indictment.

Shelton, 64, was the pastor of Community Church of God at 2500 Gallows Rd. in the Dunn Loring area from 1995 to 2000. Police said two men came forward in 2008 and alleged that Shelton had sexually assaulted them when they were boys. Shelton, now living in Marion, Ky., was arrested in March and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of indecent liberties with a minor and sodomy.

In a preliminary hearing Thursday in Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Fairfax prosecutors significantly reduced the charges against Shelton. Fairfax Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Katherine E. Stott reduced the sodomy charge, which carried a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison, to carnal knowledge, which has a range of two to 10 years in prison. Subsequent testimony by the complaining witness did not fit the sodomy charge.

A count of aggravated sexual battery of the same person, with a range of one to 20 years in prison, was reduced to custodial indecent liberties, with a range of zero to five years’ incarceration. A charge of aggravated sexual battery of the second witness was not reduced.

The first witness is 29. He said that around 1995, when he was about 14 years old, he went for piano lessons with Shelton at the church, then personal counseling. He said Shelton progressed from fondling him to kissing him to performing oral sex on him, which he said happened twice inside the church.

Stott asked the man whether Shelton had said anything about the encounters. "He just always made sure the relationship we had was kept between us," the man said. "He didn't want other people to get jealous of the time we spent together."

The second witness, now 24, said Shelton molested him in 1997, when he was 11. He said he would go on bicycle rides with Shelton, and that Shelton would direct him into a wooded area and then fondle him.

Chief Fairfax Juvenile Court Judge Kimberly J. Daniel found probable cause for one count of carnal knowledge, one count of aggravated sexual battery and three counts of custodial indecent liberties. The grand jury will hear the case May 17. Shelton is free on $80,000 bond, and Daniel required him to stay in Virginia and stay away from any children under 15.

Shelton was previously accused by church members of molesting boys at a church where he was the pastor in Illinois in the 1980s. He was not charged because of the statute of limitations in Illinois, church members said. There is no statute of limitations on such crimes in Virginia.

-- Tom Jackman


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By Tom Jackman  |  May 6, 2010; 1:52 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , From the Courthouse , Sex Crimes , Tom Jackman , Updates  | Tags: Sexual abuse, Sexual assault, Tommy Shelton, pastor accused of sex assault  
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