Foster father's sex abuse case goes to jurors

LAWRENCEVILLE - A jury began deliberations Thursday in the case of a former Gwinnett County foster father accused of molesting two children in his care.

Prosecutors allege Ronald William Shelton, 53, sexually assaulted a young brother and sister whom he sheltered from 1994 to 1999. The boy was 1 and the girl was 6 when they went to live with Shelton along with another brother, who was 2. The children were put into the foster care system because their parents were alcoholics and drug addicts, according to Assistant District Attorney Tracie Hobbs.

Hobbs said Shelton repeatedly molested the girl beginning when she was about 7. Shelton is accused of sexually assaulting her brother only once, when he was about 3. The children did not make an outcry about the alleged abuse until several years later after they were adopted by another family.

Shelton is charged with four counts of aggravated child molestation and four counts of child molestation. He has pleaded not guilty. During the trial Shelton testified in his own defense, saying he didn't know why the girl would claim she had been molested, Hobbs said.

The defense argued during closing statements Thursday that the boy had been brainwashed into claiming he was abused after his sister came forward with allegations against Shelton. Peters also leveled criticism at Gwinnett police detectives, saying two of them were "out and out deceptive, dishonest, reckless and uncaring" in the investigation.

Hobbs admitted one detective, who is no longer assigned to the special victims unit at the Gwinnett County Police Department, made some procedural mistakes in questioning the children, but he pleaded with jurors to consider Shelton's own testimony. Shelton testified that the girl who accused him was not a liar and she was "a good girl," Hobbs said.

"He agreed to everything (the girl) said on the stand except the abuse, except what gets him in trouble," Hobb said.

Over a 10-year period, Shelton housed 30 to 40 foster children, said his defense attorney, Doug Peters. Shelton is married with three biological sons, who are all adults in their 20s.