|His Side of the Story
By Liz Mitchell
Culpeper Star Exponent [Virginia]
January 21, 2006
Chad Robison hopes by coming forward other people will have the courage to tell their stories of childhood abuse.
Robison, 29, says he is a victim of Charles Shifflett, the 54-year-old pastor of First Baptist Church of Culpeper who was arrested Tuesday on Class 6 felony charges of "cruelty and injury to children."
Until now, Robison had not gone public with his identity. On Friday, he spoke with reporters after filing another felony charge against Shifflett related to sexual abuse.
"It is no longer about me at all," Robison said. "It's only for the other kids who don't have a voice."
At 14, Robison attended Calvary Baptist Church and its school, which taught children from kindergarten through 12th grade. After two years, he transferred to Culpeper County High School, where he graduated in 1995.
Shifflett was the pastor at Calvary as well as principal of its school.
Robison said he was 14 and 15 when Shifflett severely beat him. One incident sent him to the hospital, he said.
When Robison transferred schools, he also quit church. "The severity of things at the time turned me against religion," he said.
According to the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office, two offenses of "cruelty and injury to children" occurred in 1992 and 1993 against one male child.
Robison, however, said he is only one of the victims.
"There were other kids," he said, which is his reason in coming forward with the charges.
"When it first started I was looking for closure with the situation in my life, but now I'm here 150 percent for the kids of the past and the kids of the future," Robison said.
Four months ago, Robison said, the Sheriff's Office contacted him about the incident. But he is unsure why allegations from nearly 15 years ago are only now surfacing.
"I really don't know why it is all coming out now," he said. "I was contacted and questioned and agreed to cooperate."
Shifflett's church history
Archie Seale, interim pastor at Calvary Baptist, said Shifflett resigned in November when confronted by church leaders about the allegations.
Shifflett then began a new church, bringing a majority of the congregation with him. First Baptist Church of Culpeper meets at Dominion Skating Center Sundays and Wednesdays.
While Shifflett could not be reached for comment, he said in Thursday's Free Lance Star the charges are a "result of vindictiveness by angry members of his previous church."
"It's strictly out of hate," Shifflett told the paper.
Robison said he was surprised Shifflett started a new church and worries about the children who attend there.
"There are kids that go to that church," he said. "I look at my boys and think there could be a mother and a father years down the road who look at their son and can't believe it happened to them and for me not to have done anything now, I just couldn't live with that."
While the warrant must be served and processed, Shifflett is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for the original two counts of child endangerment. Both are Class 6 felonies punishable by up to five years in prison, one year in jail or a fine up to $2,500.
Liz Mitchell can be reached at 825-0771 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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