For the third time, an Augusta County man was on trial for the same child molestation charges. In both of the previous attempts, jurors could not reach a unanimous decision. But Tuesday, that changed.
The story of Ronnie Shifflett had been two hung juries and two mistrials. But the third time was the charm for the 60-year-old, who was found not guilty Tuesday afternoon on both of the felony charges he faced.
That makes him a totally free man for the first time since he was first arrested in October 2010.
Shifflett was originally charged with molesting three different children, in offenses dating back 30 years. But the charges gradually dwindled over the course of the three jury trials.
Tuesday, the lone prosecution witness was a woman now in her late 30s. She told the jury that Shifflett repeatedly abused her starting when she was in kindergarten.
"This is the classic ‘he said, she said.' And they're not inclined, the ones that I've spoken to say they're not inclined to put somebody in prison without more evidence," said John Reed, assistant commonwealth's attorney.
The defense repeatedly pointed out the 30-year gap between the alleged offenses and the time they came to light.
Shifflett's accuser said she finally spoke out when she learned he was planning to adopt a child. Shifflett took the stand in his own defense and said of the allegations, "Never, not in my life. No way."
The Augusta County jury acquitted him after just under an hour of deliberation.
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