Judy Woods: "I was There"
[Judy Woods was one of Tommy's staunch supporters, and thus she sided against the alleged victims.
It was a very divisive issue at the Ezra Church of God, and some of those who were involved back then
have not known about her change of position, and may appreciate reading her letter below.]
Judy Woods tells us what it was like for her
January 18, 2007
The subject I am about to approach absolutely boggles my mind!
I cannot comprehend, even to this day, how one person, Tommy
Shelton, with his deviate behavior, and all the while declaring
that it was not true, could almost destroy our little church.
We are, now, a handful of people at Ezra Church of God, that
have sat here for decades with a black cloud over our head that
seems as if it can never be removed. This type of situation only
happens somewhere else, not here!
Why did we, as a congregation, allow it to come to this? Why
did I not see what was happening, after all I was Sunday School
superintendent? I was in a position where I could observe many
of his interactions with the young people. Also, why did the
young victims not report the fact that they were being molested
to their parents or some authority figure? I know that one young
person did go to city hall and made a statement to the police,
but nothing happened! Did someone intervene on Tommy's behalf?
I don't have the answers to these questions!
As I look back, I quickly realize that hindsight is 20/20.
It was a time of chaos that overwhelmed me. I had Sunday School
teachers quitting because of the accusations that were running
rampant. Many had believed such accusations and left the church.
Our church was literally falling apart! At this time, I decided
to stand with the pastor. Did I ever question his innocence at
this time. Yes, only to switch back to no almost immediately.
The fact is that at this point I simply chose not to believe
the accusations for, you see, I didn't want to believe them.
After all, he was preaching holiness and musically talented.
How could there be a dark side?
But, what is probably the key factor is Tommy has a way with
words that can convince you that black is white. Any situation
that arose that didn't seem kosher, I went directly to Tommy
and questioned him on such. He always had an answer that made
me say to myself, why did I ever ask!
But, I still had many questions along the way. One young man
stood out in particular. He and Tommy were caught alone in a
certain residence. Tommy lied and said that it was his son there.
Not so! This same teenager would go along on family vacations
with the Sheltons. Tommy would also tutor this boy in his office
in the evenings.
In the past, other teenagers were used to drive him different
places; for example, he would go to a recording studio quite
regularly in Flora, IL, and, most always with a young driver.
These are just a few examples of what went on at Ezra.
In situations where Tommy needed to stand and fight for himself,
he was always incapacitated, mostly nerve issues-- nervous breakdown,
removing himself to California to escape the "heat," even admitting
himself to a mental hospital in Centralia. Others in the congregation
would try to fight his battles!
During his entire pastorate at Ezra, I stood by him and tried
to help him even though I had questions. I suppose I was naive
and blinded to a certain extent as to what was really going on.
What about today? Scripture says, "Be sure your sin will find
you out." This is exactly what happened when the pieces of the
puzzle fit perfectly into place leaving no doubt in my mind that
Tommy is guilty of molesting teenagers.
The young man that has already been mentioned came to my house
and told me exactly what Tommy did to him. This was during all
the chaos at the church. No, at this point, I did not believe
him. I confronted Tommy as to what he said. Tommy blamed the
boy's parents for forcing him to tell this. Tommy told me that
when the boy turns 21 years old, he would come back and tell
me the "truth." I haven't seen the boy since!
Some years have now passed, and I spoke to a mother of another
of Tommy's victims. She was talking about her son and Tommy.
I ask her if her son had ever said what Tommy did to him. She
proceeded to tell me what he said----which turned out to be exactly
what the young man said that had come to my house some years
before. This was the piece of the puzzle that completed the picture
of guilt. These two boys were not in any way connected--not by
age, locale or friendship!
My feelings, today, are of betrayal, being lied to over and
over, and just, in general, being "used." But how I "feel" does
not compare to the torment, agony, and embarrassment that the
victims must endure for a lifetime! Only God knows how many victims
By the way, this is not the end of the saga. Since the ruination
of Ezra, which included many victims, Tommy has continued to
pursue young men to victimize, one of which is Roger, a relative.
He then moved on to the Community Church of God in Dunn Loring,
VA, leaving more victims there! Only God knows just how many
victims there are! This type of behavior must be stopped!
A big "thank you" to the SDA and the CCG for your pursuit
of the truth. Please be persistent in your efforts. Tommy must
be held accountable for his actions!
The thought that the situation at Ezra had been dealt with
30 years ago, is simply not true! We will know Tommy has repented
of his sin when he bows on his knees before each of his victims
and begs their forgiveness. Then he must stand before the congregations
at Ezra and Dunn Loring and apologize for the agonizing devastation
he has caused each church!
I close with some advice directed at Tommy----why don't you
stand up and be a man for once in your life! Admit to what you've
done and are doing! Stop the cop-out of a nervous breakdown,
etc., when you're cornered! Stop hiding behind your fancy lawyer,
which I am certain has never been told the real truth. If he
had been, he would never have written the (2) threatening letters
in an effort to protect a child molester. Stop hiding behind
your wife and Danny, who have become your enablers, or, in other
words, accessories! Your wife should never have allowed such
behavior! Danny should never have put you on staff at 3ABN, nor
should he have allowed you on camera, except it does show the
world what a child molester looks like! Real godly sorrow and
heartfelt repentance are in order, without which hell awaits!
Then, after you've done all this, extreme long-term counseling
would be the next step!
Perhaps, if all this were accomplished, maybe the black cloud
over Ezra would slowly begin to dissipate!