A former Denton youth pastor accused of child sex trafficking reversed his not guilty plea Monday to two counts of transporting minors across state lines for sexual activity for incidents dating back to 1997, according to court documents.
Following the guilty plea, 50-year-old Robert Shiflet of Denton was ordered to be taken into the U.S. Marshal’s custody Monday pending sentencing. Shiflet was indicted in June on allegations of transporting three different minors across state lines, and coercing one of them to cross state lines, for illegal sexual activity in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
A jury trial for Shiflet was set for December 2020 in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Arkansas after being postponed twice this year. Shiflet’s and the victim’s attorneys agreed to a change of plea hearing in early November, according to court documents. Although Shiflet’s attorneys then requested the plea hearing be reset to the end of January 2021, citing COVID-19 concerns, the request was denied.
Shiflet pleaded guilty Monday to transporting a minor from Texas to Arkansas in 1997 and transporting a minor in 2002 from Arkansas to Florida, each with the intent that the minors engage in sexual activity. From 1995 to 2001, he was a youth pastor at Denton Bible Church.
Shiflet was a youth pastor in Little Rock, Arkansas during this period of time, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. An email sent to Denton Bible Church members in June said they’re aware the incidents also overlap his tenure at the church where he was also a youth pastor from 1995 to 2001. Shiflet also previously worked at Liberty Christian School in Argyle from 2008 to 2010.
According to court documents, both parties agreed to a 27-33-month sentence on each count to run concurrently with each other, although the court can still determine the appropriate sentence. Following release, Shiflet would have to register as a sex offender.
The third count of transporting and a count of coercing a minor to cross state lines will be dismissed.
The penalty for the charges is not more than 15 years in prison, a fine of at least $250,000, at least three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment, according to court documents.
ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @zairalperez.