This will take awhile to explain but let me start by saying
that in 1975 my husband and I were married at Ezra Church of
God by Tommy Shelton. We were very close to Tommy and Carol (his
wife) for a number of years. I had lived in Paducah with mutual
friends before I was married; they were like family to all of
us, We had a wonderful church family and God blessed my husband
and me with two wonderful boys.
The problems started of course with the first accusations
of misconduct with Brad Dunning. I knew Brad as a fine young
man; he didn't go to our church but I knew his mother and grandfather.
I didn't know quite how to handle what I had heard and I wasn't
100% sure of what went on. I couldn't feel free to disbelieve
my pastor but I asked God to show me the truth before I could
blame anyone. I just had to be sure I was right. What made it
harder was that our mutual friends (from Paducah) had told us
a couple of years before that they felt uneasy about Tommy bringing
boys to their home and always wanting to counsel them in his
room. This was tearing on me as I prayed that God would please
make things clear to me so I could be 100% sure.
In late October 1984 I went to our mutual friends' weekend
home (in West Frankfort) to look in her closet for the size of
a blouse; her birthday was the next week and I wanted to buy
her a gift. When I drove up to the house I saw Tommy's car in
the driveway. I also saw two boys raking leaves in the backyard.
I went to the door and rung the doorbell but no one came to open
the door. I then went to the backyard and asked the boys (they
were from our church) if they knew what Bro. Tommy was doing
in the house. They said they hadn't seen him and that his car
was there when they arrived. I went around to the door again
and opened it with my key. When I went inside I saw both bedroom
doors shut (unusual for my friends to shut these doors). This
made me very nervous; I thought to myself, "Would Tommy have
another woman in this house?"... I turned and went to the front
porch and when I turned around and came back inside there was
Tommy in his stocking feet coming up the stairs from the basement.
He said he was checking to see if there was water on the basement
floor. I thought that was very strange for when I went to the
bedroom the door was opened and someone was in the bathroom.
I asked him who was in the bathroom and he said it was his son,
Ricky. I went into the bedroom and the bed was a total mess;
the bedcovers were all in disarray. I was really getting nervous
now and I went over to the closet and looked inside for the size
and then got out of there.
I drove out to the church and walked into the Christian school
gym and there was Ricky playing basketball with other boys. I
then went upstairs where I knew they were having a meeting with
new prospects for the school; I saw the principal's wife and
motioned for her to come out. I asked her where Tommy was and
she said he was with a certain boy somewhere.
I went to my car and proceeded to drive back to the house
and on the way I saw Tommy's car coming down the road. I was
sure the boy had hid when they saw my car coming down the country
road. When I got back to the house I went inside and found the
bedroom doors opened and the bed all made up. I walked back to
the front porch and Tommy drove up. My question to him was, "What
is going on? You've been caught haven't you?" His reply was,
"I knew you would think that something was going on. I [page
2] was just cutting his hair." I asked him why the bed was a
mess and he just said, "I don't know." He said he didn't have
a chance anymore; he had to hide everything he did because everyone
would think the worst. He then told me he would leave the church.
I told him to do what he thought he should do and I left.
That afternoon he sent Carol to talk to me. She told me I
was mistaken on what I saw and he was just trying to help this
boy. She said I was just jealous of Tommy and his relationship
with our mutual friends. I thought, why or how would he come
up with that? She told me it would ruin the church and it would
be my fault. We talked for hours that night just enough for me
to question what I should do. I decided I would not tell anyone
what went on that day but continue to watch and pray for God
to tell me what to do. I thought it was enough to scare Tommy
into changing his ways. I wanted him to get help.
Several months went by and I was praying constantly telling
others I had a great burden and needed them to help me pray about
it. One Sunday while at the same house with my friends, Ricky
came in. He was really upset; his dad was going on another trip
and was taking one of the young boys with him (the same boy that
was at the house with him that day in October). Ricky cried and
asked why his dad would take these other boys and not take him.
Well, that did it for me. The next day I went to my friends (the
mutual friends who owned the house) and told them the whole story.
They both realized that Tommy had a problem and I will never
forget the words said, "Even if he were my blood son he must
be confronted; he must pay for his sins." That's all I needed,
I had to go home and talk with one of the leaders in the church,
the Sunday School Supt.
I told her (the Sunday School Supt.) what had happened and
she told me she had been seeing things that didn't look right
to her and she and her husband had questioned it. Her husband
had seen cars at the church late at night when he had come home
from work on midnight shift, cars that belonged to young boys.
I told her I wanted to see the church get him help; he had a
problem that was more than we could handle. She hugged me on
her front porch and told me it would be taken care of.
Just two days later at Prayer Meeting she stood up and testified
and ended with, "I love my pastor and I stand behind him 100%."
I was shocked. Of course Tommy wasn't there because he was sick.
The next Sunday the Asst. Pastor and Principal of the Christian
School stood up and said Tommy was having a nervous breakdown
and would be out for a few weeks. That night he stood up and
said, "Everyone that is behind our pastor stand up". Well, everyone
stood up but me. I think I was in total shock at what was happening.
The people that knew my life and me began to wonder what was
going on; they knew something wasn't right. They began to call
me but I still didn't tell what was going on, they soon got wind
that I was jealous and trying to destroy the church.
Soon I did have to explain in detail what was going on and
what had happened. There were many supporters of Tommy that gave
our family a hard time, even to the point of [page 3] writing
nasty letters to my mother-in-law, who didn't have a thing to
do with what happened; she had been gone from Ezra Church for
a long time. I think maybe there should be some apologies made
before there can be healing. Even the young men that came forward
had terrible things said about them; some supporters made the
comment that you couldn't believe these boys because they weren't
Christians and going to church. I wonder how many young men that
were molested by their pastors are in church today? It was hard
enough for me to ever trust a pastor or the church people again.
I lost all confidence in those people that knew what was going
on and still backed Tommy, yet I didn't lose hope in the God
I knew. These were the things that led to Tommy losing his credentials
with the Church of God, Anderson, Indiana, the awful sins he
committed against the children! Those that are still backing
Tommy (I think we know who they are) need to realize that the
judgment is coming and is swift. The devil wants to deceive us
all; open your eyes people: it's time to make it right.