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Shifflet found guilty on one of five charges

Numerous bailiffs stood guard throughout the packed Athens County Court of Common Pleas courtroom while Thomas Shifflet was found guilty of one of the five charges in his rape and child molestation trial.

The jury found Shifflet, 76, guilty of one count of gross sexual imposition for molesting a 3-year-old on June 27, 2011 at a daycare center run by his daughter in Glouster.

He was found not guilty of one count of sexual imposition for molesting a 13-year-old at Jody’s Country Collectables in Millfield.

The jury could not come to a decision on Shifflet’s two other counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of rape.

Judge Michael Ward warned the attendants of the trial to “show no emotion” while the verdict was read, but it was met by tears and disbelief from the victims’ families.

The jury told Ward there was no chance of them reaching a verdict on the three charges after 19 hours of deliberation.

The gross sexual imposition charges are for allegedly molesting a 10-year-old in a car driving through Athens County and an 8-year-old at one of his daughters’ daycare centers. The alleged rape was of a 4-year-old at one of the centers.

The counts were declared a mistrial, meaning Shifflet could be on trial for the charges again with a different jury.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn wanted Shifflet to be sentenced directly after the verdict.

“He has been found guilty of molesting a 3-year-old girl by a jury of 12,” he said.

Ward decided to delaying sentencing to a later date but revoked Shifflet’s bond after a request from Blackburn and John LaVelle, Shifflet’s defense attorney.

“There have been threats on (Shifflet’s) life. We have no objection to him being taken into custody,” LaVelle said.

Ward set Shifflet’s bail at $500,000 in cash and he will be taken to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.

Blackburn said he had mixed feelings on the results of the trial.

“Obviously, it is difficult with young children testifying. I am grateful (Shifflet) was found guilty of molesting our youngest victim. I feel bad (the 13-year-old victim) did not get her justice,” Blackburn said.

He said he hopes the case brings awareness to daycare safety.

“We need to talk about daycares and how we are going to protect our kids,” Blackburn said.

He added that he is planning to talk to Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-92nd, about creating a law named after the 3-year-old victim that would require video cameras in daycare centers.

Shiffet will have a mandatory sentence of one to five years in prison for being found guilty of gross sexual imposition. Blackburn said he plans on going for five years. Shifflet will also have to register as a Tier II sex offender upon his release.

A date for sentencing has yet to be set. The victims’ families declined to comment until after sentencing.

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