The Herald Bulletin

April 30, 2013

Editorial: Civil lawsuit against Shoot casts pall over community

— Whenever a local leader is accused of wrongdoing it casts a pall over the community. That’s certainly the case with recent accusations leveled against real estate broker Roger Shoot.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office has filed a civil lawsuit in Madison County against Shoot, alleging he ran a rent-to-own scheme that bilked Anderson home buyers out of money designated to pay homeowner’s insurance premiums and property taxes, in addition to other alleged indiscretions.

The attorney general also filed a complaint with the state real estate commission asking that Shoot’s license be revoked. And Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings has instructed local police to investigate Shoot with an eye on potential criminal charges.

Shoot isn’t just any local real estate broker. He’s a well-known community activist who has been a gregarious, engaging figure at community events for decades. He grew up in Anderson and graduated from Madison Heights. In recent years he has been a driving force behind the Anderson Community Schools Hall of Fame and has been a tireless advocate of recycling. Shoot is also a former member of The Herald Bulletin’s editorial board.

Shoot’s wife, Pam, is named in the civil lawsuit, as well. Pam is well known in the community, too, as the program director for the Leadership Academy of Madison County and its youth program. At this point, it’s unclear what she knew about her husband’s alleged business transgressions.

It may be that Shoot is guilty of the allegations. It may be that he’s not guilty. In this country, innocence is presumed, and that’s the way it should be in this case. The burden is on the state to prove Shoot’s culpability in the civil lawsuit, and police and the prosecutor’s office will determine whether to pursue criminal charges.

Unfortunately, the mere leveling of accusations is viewed in some quarters as tantamount to proof of guilt. In the case of the civil lawsuit against Shoot, there appears to be a good deal of damaging evidence.

If Shoot did cheat people who hoped to own a home, shame on him. Regardless of whether the state’s case holds up in court, the reality is that the complaints have already brought shame to a community that trusted Shoot as a vocal and visible leader.