A former Denton youth pastor accused of child sex trafficking on Monday reversed his plea of not guilty to two charges of transporting minors across state lines for sexual activity in 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 custody of the U.S. Marshals Service on 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 had been set for this month in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas after it was postponed twice this year. Shiflet’s and the victims’ 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, 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 from Arkansas to Florida in 2002, each with the intent that the minors engage in sexual activity.
Shiflet was a youth pastor in Little Rock, Arkansas, during that 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 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 sentence of 27 to 33 months on each count, to run concurrently, although the court can still determine the appropriate sentence. Following release, Shiflet would have to register as a sex offender.
Two charges — the third count of transporting and one count of coercing a minor to cross state lines — will be dismissed.
The penalty for the charges Shiflet pleaded guilty to 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.