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Press Conference to Announce New Lawsuit Against 3ABN Network and Tommy Shelton

Jeff: …coming forward against the Three Angels Broadcasting Network. And also against Reverend Tommy Shelton. This case is about allegations of sexual abuse that Reverend Tommy Shelton committed upon my client Alex Walker when he was a child. Alex alleged that he was abused in 1997, and then again in 2001. Reverend Tommy Shelton has been accused of abusing children since the 1980s.

The original allegations of abuse started when he was with the Ezra Church in West Frankfort, Illinois. Which is the same city where the Three Angels Broadcasting Network was located. Three Angels Broadcasting Network is an international Christian television broadcasting network that broadcasts 24 hours a day, around the world with Christian programming. The Reverend Tommy Shelton was a pastor at the Ezra Church, was accused of sexually abusing boys in the 1980’s. He then began to work after those allegations for the Three Angels Broadcasting Network. He settled in Virginia where he was accused of abusing boys there. And then they brought him back to Illinois.

Tommy Shelton, an accused child molester for over 20 years was associated and with working with the Three Angels Broadcasting Network up until last year. He is now being criminally prosecuted in Virginia for crimes against two boys, one of them being Alex.

So Alex came forward several years ago, went to the police in Virginia, that case is being prosecuted. He’s filing this lawsuit today against Tommy Shelton and against the Three Angels Broadcasting Network for several reasons. One is that the best way to protect children is to expose predators and those institutions that protect them. Also for Alex it’s part of his healing process. To hold this institution and to hold Tommy Shelton accountable.

As we allege in this lawsuit, the president of the Three Angels Broadcasting Network was Reverend Danny Shelton, who’s Tommy’s brother. We allege that Danny Shelton was aware of these allegations of abuse going all the back to the 1980’s. Despite the allegations from numerous victims, he continued to employ Tommy Shelton as a member of the Three Angels Broadcasting Network where he was publicly exposed for protecting him.

Unfortunately, this is yet another case that never should have happened. We allege that if the right things were done, this guy would have been away from children decades ago and lives would have been spared. Now Alex is going to make some comments and then we’ll take some questions.

Alex: As Jeff said my name is [inaudible 00:02:52] Alexander, I live in Virginia. And the reason I came forward is because I know there’s many other people out here who have been hurt by him, and it’s my chance to do something that was right for them. And trying seek justice. I pray that if there’s any other victims that they will come forward and do what I’m doing today. Because I know what’s it’s like to have to through being victimized by somebody [inaudible 00:03:18].

Jeff: Well actually in the 1980s, my understanding is that there was a criminal investigation in West Frankfort. And why those cases never went to prosecution, I don’t know. But we do believe that there’s over a dozen victims, many have been coming forward once he was arrested more recently. The first criminal prosecution where they’re actually going to trial is this one in Virginia relating to Alex and another man who was a boy when he alleges he was abused.

Female 1: I’m sorry, you said a dozen allegations. Where is there a record of that? How do you know that? How do you know there’s a [inaudible 00:04:23]?

Jeff: Regarding the 1980s?

Female 1: Right, yeah.

Jeff: Yeah.

Female 1: Previous victims.

Jeff: Well some of those victims have come forward publicly and have been speaking out, they’ve become witnesses in the criminal prosecution. There is some documentation that’s out there from some of the victims. And so these other victims from the 1980s have made themselves public.

Female 1: Did they come forward to law enforcement, and then they decided not to prosecute the cases? Is there any sign that that happened?

Jeff: Some yes. My understanding is that some of them did come forward in the 1980s to law enforcement, and that there were some kind of criminal investigation at least undertaken. And that never went forward and we don’t know why. Those are some of the questions we have. But our point is, when it comes to Three Angels Broadcasting Network is that we believe that this organization was well aware of the numerous allegations against Tommy Shelton yet continued to employ him.

Female 1: And why do you believe that Danny Lee Shelton and others at Three Angels knew? Why do you believe that?

Jeff: Right. Well because we have information that indicates that Danny Shelton was aware that his brother, Tommy was abusing in the 1980s. Was around for some of that investigation, when some of these victims claim that they had told him. Since the criminal cases were filed a lot of information has come out. And on the internet you’ll actually see if you look, there’s certain members of the Christian community who have come forward and are trying to get these things cleaned up.

Female 2: Is there an estimate as to how many [inaudible 00:06:02]?

Jeff: How many victims? I’ve been told there’s well over a dozen. I don’t know exactly how many, but we’ll see now.

Female 2: [inaudible 00:06:10]

Jeff: Correct, correct.

Female 2: [inaudible 00:06:17]

Jeff: Yes.

Female 2: [inaudible 00:06:20]

Jeff: And one of the things is that a lot of these victims suffered in silence. And one of the reasons Alex is coming forward publicly now, is to encourage other victims to come forward and get help. If they are victims of this person, or anyone else, is to get help. Don’t suffer in silence. And the worst thing for a victim is to keep these secrets and not get help. And so hopefully, by coming forward other victims will as well.

Female 3: Why is he incarcerated in Virginia now?

Jeff: I believe he’s out on bond.

Female 3: He’s out on bond?

Jeff: But, he was sent to Virginia in the 1990s.

Female 3: Okay.

Jeff: He worked with the church in Virginia in the 1990s, while still working for 3ABN network. Where he allegedly abused boys, including Alex. And so Alex went forward to the police in Virginia. Which is notable because I think he was concerned about getting justice in Illinois. And so because he was abused in both states he chose to criminally go forward. ‘And he did this last year, in Virginia.

Female 3: Okay, and that’s why he was arrested? And…

Jeff: Correct.

Female 3: …why he’s in the correctional..

Jeff: Correct, and the other victim was also abused in Virginia.

Female 3: But was he convicted?

Jeff: He hasn’t been convicted yet. This case…

Female 3: He has not been?

Jeff: No. He has not been convicted yet.

Female 3: [Inaudible 00:07:41]

Jeff: I’m sorry?

Female 3: Does he have [inaudible 00:07:46]?

Jeff: Well yeah, I mean it’s…

Female 3: [inaudible 00:07:49]

Jeff: Yeah, there’s a status hearing in July. I will say this, this is a matter of public record. There was a plea bargain that was rejected by the judge just a couple weeks ago. Because under that plea bargain, my understanding is that Tommy Shelton was not going to serve jail time. So that was rejected and now that’s moving forward.

Female 4: And why federal court? Why is this a federal lawsuit?

Jeff: Well one that we have a federal count in there. Because at the time that Alex was being abused here in Illinois, Tommy Shelton was living in Kentucky. And he was commuting every week to come into work here in Illinois. And because he was crossing state lines, for we allege for the purpose of committing child abuse is a federal claim. And so that creates a federal question. In addition to the negligence claim against Three Angels Broadcasting Network.

All right, thank you everybody.

Female: Thank you.