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Woman convicted of failing to report abuse in child torture case

September 29 – A woman accused of failing to report the torture of four children by her ex-husband has been sentenced to house arrest.

Rebecca Ann Nguyen, 41, made a plea on Monday, Sept. 26, on four counts of second-degree child abuse. Supreme Court Justice Kathlene Gosselin sentenced Nguyen to 10 years in prison with the first six months on the Hall County house arrest program.

After that, she is put under private house arrest for two years and has Gosselin serve the rest of the sentence on condition.

Nguyen and Scott Shelby, 47, were arrested in 2019.

The Public Prosecution Service has described the trauma that the four children experienced as child torture.

During the trial before a plea was filed, Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler described Shelby as “a man who did everything in his power to hurt and destroy these children.”

Nguyen and Scott Shelby were charged in March 2020. While Shelby faced child abuse and first-degree child abuse, Nguyen was charged with four counts of second-degree child abuse.

Nguyen was accused of leaving the house where she lived with Shelby and the children and abandoning the children, despite knowing about the abuse. She was also charged with not making “efforts to protect the children,” the indictment said.

After two days of testimony, Shelby pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life plus 60 years. He is now trying to retract his IOU.

“This case was just incredibly tragic from multiple perspectives, I think,” said attorney Chris van Rossem. “But from the start, I think she wanted to take responsibility and pay for her failures in the case.”

Nguyen was given prime offender status, meaning the case will be removed from her criminal record if she meets all the conditions of her sentence.

“I have always thought and felt that she is incredibly sorry for what happened to those children,” Van Rossem said of his client, who divorced Shelby in 2019. “That was pretty horrific, but at the same time — and again, I don’t know. I don’t think she’s trying to apologize, but she was also Scott Shelby’s victim.”

When asked for clarification, Van Rossem said Nguyen faced all forms of abuse “verbal, physical or otherwise”.

Gosselin also ordered that Nguyen be returned within eight months for a judicial review.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh did not text back asking for comment.

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