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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Shelby Yount is sharing her story as a victim of sexual abuse. Her father, David Yount, was recently sentenced to 21 years in prison for first-degree child abuse and sexual battery.

Shelby Yount said she originally told her mother about her father’s abuse, who then confided in her pastor at Abundant Life Church in Springfield.

“I grew up in this church. I grew up thinking that if my mother went to my pastor with this, of course something would be done, and it was like it was worse,” Yount said.

Yount said nothing was done after she confided in her mother and pastor.

“They all had a series of elders’ meetings where a lot of people came together, and David had to tell them what had happened,” she said. “None of them asked me anything. None of them asked me if it was true, if I was OK, or if I needed help.”

We asked Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson why Pastor Ben Davis was never charged with failure to report, even though he is required to report. Patterson said the abuse was not reported until 2012, when a school counselor filed a report, even though the victim had told his mother and pastor about the abuse as early as 2009.

“Failure to make a required report is a misdemeanor and subject to a one-year statute of limitations. So when the allegations came to light in 2016, the statute of limitations on the failure to report charge against the minister had already expired,” Patterson said.

Patterson said cases like this could have come to light much sooner if Abundant Life Church members had reported the abuse when they first heard about it.

“It’s really a failure of this organization and a small group of people to do the right thing, to follow the law and to protect a child,” Patterson said.

Shelby Yount’s uncle and aunt, James and Anne Miller, were there for Shelby the whole time. Anne Miller said she wanted the church to be held accountable.

“The trust has been broken and the fact that a place where people go to form a safe community has been destroyed in a way that is just unimaginable,” Miller said.

Yount said she wanted to share her story to make sure others feel comfortable talking about it.

“I want victims, whether in this church, in other churches or in their own homes, to keep telling someone until someone reports it,” she said.

If a child ever tells you about abuse, report it immediately to the Child Abuse Hotline.

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