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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Pastor Tommy Nelson Retires 1 Year After Allegations of Ignoring ‘Red Flags’ of Sexual Abuse for Decades

By Julie Roys
tommy nelson
Tommy Nelson preaches at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Tex. (Video screengrab)

One year after being accused of ignoring “red flags” of sexual abuse for decades, well-known author and pastor of Denton Bible Church in North Texas, Tommy Nelson, has announced he’s retiring.

In a letter to his congregation, Nelson stated, “I’ve never felt anything quite so strongly as the need to transition now to the next generation.”

He added, “A church like Denton Bible Church needs to always be, to always exist. A church that is fundamental, premillennial, Calvinistic, dispensational, discipleship-focused, elder ruled, complementarian, and ‘non-woke’ must continue.”

Fox4 News in Dallas-Fort Worth noted that Nelson’s letter was sent on October 4, “exactly one year to the day after our Fox 4 investigation aired.”

The investigation concerned the abuse of multiple teenage girls by former Denton Bible Church Junior High Minister Robert Shiflet.

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denton bible church
Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas. (Courtesy Photo)

Shiflet was sentenced in 2021 to 33 months in prison for transporting a minor across state lines to engage in criminal sexual activity. He was released from prison for good behavior on January 11, 2023, after serving 25 months.

An independent investigation commissioned by Denton Bible Church found “credible accounts” that Shiflet abused at least 14 girls—11 at Denton Bible and three at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Ark.

robert shiflet denton Bible
Robert Shiflet (File Photo)

Shiflet worked at Denton Bible Church from 1996—2001, and at Fellowship Bible Church from 2001—2003. The independent investigation found that an intern at Denton Bible reported Shiflet’s inappropriate behavior in 1999. The church confronted Shiflet and asked him to write a letter of apology to the victim, “which he never delivered.”

In a sermon in May 2022, Nelson said he and other church leaders “had heard reports of Shiflet’s inappropriate behavior but not physical contact.” He added, “We saw smoke . . . (but) did not look for fire.”

A victim of Shiflet told The Roys Report (TRR) last October that she found Nelson’s remarks in his sermon “incredibly selfish and calloused.”

“He lacked remorse, lament, and a sense of brokenness,” she said. “Systemic injustice was perpetuated by egotistical narcissists and cult-like behavior at this church. I know that sounds harsh, but all the victims’ experiences have been nothing short of an abomination.”

At the time of the Fox4 report, Nelson served on the board of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). However, according to the school’s website, Nelson is no longer on the board. 

TRR reached out to DTS for comment but did not immediately hear back.

According to Nelson’s letter to the congregation, Denton Bible Church Associate Pastor Logan Nyquist will take Nelson’s place as senior pastor.

UPDATE: A victim of abuse by Shiflet, “Deborah,” offered the following statement to TRR after this article was published:

Tommy’s announcement about his retirement is too little, too late. He should have been fired the Sunday he stood at the pulpit and lied that DBC never knew about the abuse. The very letter they published proves they knew. He lied from the pulpit, the elders did nothing, and one year later he announced his retirement. I guess that’s what happens when the church and elders have drunk the Kool-aid for too long. Deaf and blind leading the deaf and blind. I have no respect for any man or woman who continues to attend that church since Fox News aired this story a year ago. Tommy Nelson and his elder board are a prime example of what’s sick in the Church today. He and his spineless head elder and senior executive pastor, Curtis Elder and Jerry Falbo, refused to attend the meeting of a victim who wanted to share her final thoughts and feelings addressed to the leadership of their failures last year. You can smell the arrogance and lack of desire to abandon his throne from his announcement letter. He lists a long description of what their church stands for in his letter. Unfortunately he left out abuse covering, pastor worshiping, victim silencing, elder-led mafia, cancerous toxic business organization. Jesus of Nazareth wants little to do with a place like this. Had Tommy and the elders biblically shepherded the flock entrusted to him, believed the victims as children, reported to the police when it happened not 15 years later, nor lied from the pulpit about their negligence and actually repented, the child victims wouldn’t have had to call the police as adults, wait for the FBI to bring some of God’s justice to earth, only to watch Tommy lie from the pulpit and then see him announce his retirement exactly one year later and cry about it in his letter to the church. I long for the day when Tommy, the elders, and Rob Shiflet meet their Maker and receive the justice they are due. Remember, the Bible says God holds leaders to a “higher standard.” These men are the most cowardly group of “spiritual leaders” I’ve seen in my lifetime. There is a long line of people I know personally who have painful stories of hurt and betrayal by Tommy Nelson and the past and current elders of Denton Bible Church. I know many people are relieved to see this bully go. I feel he needs to be professionally evaluated for narcissism. The timing of his retirement announcement is impeccable. Did the elders force him to retire exactly one year after the Fox News story went public? The world may never know

Resignation Letter of Pastor Tommy Nelson – Oct. 4, 2023

Tommy Nelson Resignation Letter

Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. She also previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate, and has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals. 



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12 Responses

  1. Julie, I am SO glad that you are exposing these anti-Christ religious frauds that abuse the trust of innocent people including children….

    This kind of sewage has to be constantly called out and exposed for what it is – and these people are DONE from any sort of involvement in a genuine community in Christ

  2. You can almost look into these churches and just know evil is being protected. I’ll never understand these allegedly men of God have so little concern to protect women. Hey guys these women are also someone’s daughter. Matt 7:21-23

    1. Yes, Gary, but also, these women are SOMEONE. They’re worth protecting regardless of who they are to someone else.

  3. How much theater is there in churches?

    What percentage of ministers are actors who aren’t much different from actors on the stage or in the movies or on TV? We know that actors in plays and films pretend to be someone else for the amusement of those that have paid to watch. How many actors are behind a pulpit, saying all the right words with impressive intonation and gestures while performing for the “spiritual” entertainment of those in the pews?

    What do the words “fundamental, premillennial, Calvinistic, dispensational, discipleship-focused, elder ruled, complementarian, and ‘non-woke” have to do with protecting young people from ordained predators? Nothing. These are just concepts associated with a particular religious culture, useful for deciding who to hire. They didn’t guide the staff and elders to do the right thing at this church, did they?

    Does it matter that the great majority of Christians in the history of the Church have not been premillennial, Calvinistic or dispensational? What would Denton Bible Church be without John Darby?

  4. I’ll try again.

    What do the words “fundamental, premillennial, Calvinistic, dispensational, discipleship-focused, elder ruled, complementarian, and ‘non-woke’” have to do with protecting the young people of a church? These are just window dressing to distract from the failure of those running the show to do the right thing.

    1. I wonder where “the fruit of the Spirit” fits in the list of doctrinal tenets Denton Bible Church wants to be known for.

  5. Richard,

    Early in the 20th Century there was a famous award-winning novelist named Sinclair Lewis, Many of his books now seem very dated when you read them except for one – Elmer Gantry, about a very successful pastor and evangelist who doesn’t believe in the Bible at all, but realizes he can perform his way to the top and have a pretty good life materially.

    It reads as fresh as ever in these days of the Evangelical Industrial Complex, and undoubtedly there are lots of Elmer Gantrys in the pulpits of large US churches.

  6. Yes, indeed. I read Elmer Gantry. The movie changed too much stuff. I guess they didn’t want Burt Lancaster to play the part of a rotten person. Have you ever read Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis?

    If you want to read about a Jewish writer that’s been trying to get people to wake up about abuse of children in Jewish situations, see

    The first half is about Pope Pius XII and what he did/didn’t do during World War II. The second half is about child molestation in Jewish environments. I especially like the comment that starts with “I often wonder whether the failure of our leadership to respond to the problem of the child molester stems from the fact that we are conditioned to look for solutions which will alleviate a general situation rather than rectify an immediate problem. Thus we are stymied by the fact that we have to admit that this problem exists in our community and that it says something about us.”

  7. There is a lot to comment on this “article”. But this statement “I long for the day when Tommy, the elders, and Rob Shiflet meet their Maker and receive the justice they are due” , along with other statements, is very revealing for the state of mind of the writer. And it doesn’t look like a healthy mental place, or a spiritual one.

    1. Incorrect. Justice is good and right, and is what a normal, healthy person desires to be accomplished.

      Spiritualizing it away is a mistake, and simply turns christians passive, compliant, and apathetic, with all the conviction of a sea cucumber.

    2. Daniel:

      Who knows you might feel different if this had happened to you or someone close to you? Nothing wrong hoping that people receive their justice. Your comment seems cold and unfeeling.

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