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Court Docs: Eight victims listed in sexual assault on a child case against Jehovah’s Witness elder

TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- An arrest affidavit for a Florissant man arrested on the charge of sexual assault on a child sheds light on the case, with allegations stretching back for decades and claims of complacency by others in positions of power.

Shawn Lance Swisher, 60, was arrested at his Teller County home Tuesday.

The affidavit lists eight victims in the case against Swisher. The accusations against Swisher date back to the early 2000s, with some recalling incidents that happened as early as the 1970s.

According to the affidavit, witnesses told investigators that Swisher was "handsy," would rub up against minors, and groped numerous victims.

One of the witnesses told investigators that Swisher was a highly respected member of the congregation and put on a pedestal. The witness said "reporting these things to law enforcement was not something you ever did. (Redacted) stated that's how they were raised, it was common knowledge, that these things would be handled within the congregation, because the punishment that God gave was worse than the punishment that men gave you."

In the affidavit, one witness said Swisher told them to not tell anyone about what he did. However, he said even if they did tell someone, Swisher reportedly told the victim "no one would believe" them anyway because of who Swisher was.

One witness, who left the Kingdom Hall, told investigators victims were afraid to report the incidents because they would lose privileges in the Kingdom Hall or be excommunicated. According to the affidavit, an elder was removed from their position because they wouldn't stop investigating the claims against Swisher.

According to the affidavit, witnesses allege other elders "didn't do anything" regarding Swisher despite being told by numerous people of the allegations.

In 2018, the affidavit states one witness claims Swisher was "out of control" and had been seen molesting a toddler.

One witness, who said they'd been going to the Kingdom Hall since the 70s and knew the Swisher family, told investigators Swisher would grab victims and bend them over, rubbing against them. According to the affidavit, the witness told investigators that Swisher's "eyes would glaze over and he would make these guttural sounds, almost like an evil laugh" when he was doing those things.

According to the affidavit, the witness was told elders would make a report to the Meeker Police Department to notify the congregation that Swisher was a threat. However, the affidavit states no report was ever filed.

According to the affidavit, Swisher allegedly took a young child, either nine or ten, from a Denver convention, and that child "blacked out" after sitting on his lap in the car. When they were returned to their parents, the affidavit states the parents were "relieved when (redacted) returned with Shawn, because he was a trusted elder."

The affidavit includes allegations of a time when a 16-year-old victim went to Swisher's house to bring packages to his family. The affidavit states the victim remembered standing in the doorway, Swisher with a needle then remembered being on their back in Swisher's father's living room. According to the affidavit, Swisher allegedly raped the victim before "throwing" the victim "out like garbage." The affidavit states Swisher denied these allegations over a recorded Zoom meeting in Nov. 2022.

One victim in the affidavit told investigators all of the Swisher boys would "brush against girls' breasts with their elbows or shoulders," stating Shawn Swisher was the worst.

According to the affidavit, Swisher was also active in the Kingdom Hall in Colorado Springs, which caters to deaf people, at some point.

Investigators searched Swisher's home when he was arrested. The results of that search have not been released.

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