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Woman sentenced for not reporting abuse in child torture case
Rebecca Shelby.jpg
Rebecca Nguyen

A woman accused of not reporting the torture of four children by her ex-husband has been sentenced to house arrest. 

Rebecca Ann Nguyen, 41, entered a plea Monday, Sept. 26, on four counts of second-degree child cruelty. Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin gave Nguyen a 10-year sentence with the first six months in the Hall County house arrest program.

After that, she will have two years of private house arrest, and Gosselin allowed for the remainder of the sentence to be served on probation.

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

The prosecution has described the trauma that the four children experienced as child torture.

At trial before a plea was struck, Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler described Shelby as “a man who did everything he could to hurt, to destroy these children.”

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

Nguyen was accused of leaving the home where she lived with Shelby and the children and abandoning the children, despite knowing about the abuse. She also was accused of not making “any attempts to protect” the children, according to the indictment.

After two days of testimony, Shelby pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years. He is now attempting to withdraw his guilty plea.

“This case was just incredibly tragic for multiple perspectives, I think,” defense attorney Chris van Rossem said. “But she from the get-go wanted to, I think, accept responsibility and atone for her failures in the case.”

Nguyen was given First Offender status, meaning she will have the case discharged from her record if she fulfills all of the terms of her sentence.

“I’ve always thought and felt that she’s incredibly remorseful about what happened to those kids,” 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 think she’s trying to offer any excuses — but she very much was a victim of Scott Shelby, too.”

When asked to clarify, van Rossem said Nguyen suffered all types of abuse “whether verbal, physical or otherwise.”

Gosselin also ordered for Nguyen to return for a court review in eight months.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh did not return a text message seeking comment.