Former Winston-salem Church Youth Leader Convicted of Sexually Abusing Boys in the 1990s

By Michael Hewlett
Winston-Salem Journal
November 1, 2016

For years, Robert Allen Shutt served as a youth leader for Salem Baptist Church and raised money for church camps.

But according to a Forsyth County prosecutor, Shutt also used his position at the church to molest young boys.

On Tuesday, Shutt, 71, of Royalton Street, pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court to 16 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. The allegations involved three boys, who were between 12 and 16, and occurred in the 1990s at Shutt’s house. In each instance, Shutt would have one of the boys spend the night at his house, then he would sexually abuse that boy.

Assistant District Attorney Pansy Glanton said the abuse occurred on multiple occasions. She also said Shutt molested a fourth boy in the 1990s. That boy, who is now an adult, didn’t want to prosecute but was willing to testify if the case had gone to trial.

Judge Brad Long consolidated the charges into six counts of indecent liberties and sentenced Shutt to a total of nine years to 15 years in prison.

When he is released from prison, Shutt will have to register as a sex offender for a period of 30 years.

Allegations emerge in 2015

Glanton said in court that the allegations surfaced in 2015, as each boy, now an adult, made a report to Winston-Salem police, which began investigating Shutt.

One man said Shutt sexually abused him from 1992 to 1996, starting when he was 12.

The man told police that Shutt would massage his back and legs and then rub his genitals, Glanton said. She said this happened eight to 10 times a year until the boy turned 16.

Another man told police that Shutt would give him massages. That man told police that Shutt molested him from the time he was 13 until he was 15. Shutt also watched that victim shower, Glanton said. Those incidents occurred between 1998 and 2001, according to indictments.

A third man told police that Shutt molested him multiple times from the time he was 12 until he was about 14, but he remembered one specific incident in which Shutt touched his knee and put his hand in his shorts, Glanton said. Those incidents occurred between 1993 and 1994.

Margaret Nanette Shutt, Shutt’s sister, said her brother has left Salem Baptist and is attending another church. He has volunteered in the neighborhood and is trying to do good. He is also dealing with health issues, she said.

She said she regrets the hurt her brother’s conduct caused. She also said her family was shocked when the allegations came out. She said as Christians, the family came together and forgave Shutt.

Glanton said that parents trusted Shutt enough to allow their children to spend the night at his house and that Shutt betrayed that trust.

Terrence Hines, Shutt’s attorney, said Shutt recognizes that what he did was wrong and is remorseful for it. Hines said Shutt is a changed man who is trying to make amends for his mistakes.

Abuse had ripples

The boys whom Shutt was convicted of sexually abusing are all in their 30s now. Only one came to court Tuesday, along with family and friends, to watch Shutt plead guilty and get sentenced.

The other two victims wrote letters detailing the problems that Shutt’s sexual abuse caused them. One wrote about how he struggled through his marriage. Reporting the abuse was, for him, part of the healing process.

The other victim wrote that it was never his intent to split the church but to make sure that Shutt was held accountable for what he did to him and other young boys.

In the letter, written months before Shutt pleaded guilty Tuesday, the man urged Shutt to tell people at Salem Baptist what he had done and then to turn himself in to authorities.

He said he could not forgive Shutt for what he had done to other young boys but he had forgiven Shutt for what happened to him.

The man said in the letter he wanted Shutt to know that what he did was wrong.

“It took me 15 years to acknowledge the sick things you have done,” the victim wrote.








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