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Arrest rocks church

December 29, 2001

Ryan Carter

BURBANK -- A local church's leaders are reacting with shock after its

now-former youth director was arrested, accused of committing sex acts

with a girl, according to police.

David Shelton, a Burbank resident and recently hired youth director

for American Lutheran Church in Burbank, was arrested Monday after an

investigation that lasted a few weeks, Police Det. Brian Llewellyn said.

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Shelton, whose bail was set at $80,000, posted bond and was released

Tuesday from Burbank Jail, police said. He is scheduled to be arraigned

Jan. 10 in Burbank court.

"I have no comment on the issue," Shelton said earlier this week,

deferring to the advice of his attorney. "It's a very sensitive issue and

it's a very scary situation."

Police declined to release the age of the girl, who is a member of the

church's youth group. They also declined to specify what Shelton is

alleged to have done.

"It was a serious [sex] act, though," said Lt. Janice Lowers, a

department spokeswoman.

The girl attended an event this week at the church, said its pastor,

the Rev. Ron White.

White, who has ministered at the church for 20 years, was shocked by

the allegations.

"This hits us out of the blue," White said.

The church had been revamping its youth ministry and, after interviews

and a background check, hired Shelton in October. Shelton also works as a

creator of children's television characters. He recently organized a

Halloween concert and fund-raiser at the church, which benefited a local

canine shelter.

As head of the youth group, Shelton was responsible for supervising

and organizing youth programs for teenagers. Shelton has been fired from

the post, White said.

"We don't really know what the ramifications will be, and how these

alleged violations of trust will transfer to the congregation, its

ministry and to the kids," White said. "We are looking for leadership for

youth and seeking to handle the situation in a way that is helpful for

the kids," he said.

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