"I've never been so shocked" a friend tells PEOPLE

By Steve Helling
Updated November 12, 2014 04:25 PM
Delaware State Police/AP

From the outside, Molly Shattuck appeared to live a charmed life.

Blonde and athletic, she was a pillar of her Baltimore community. Married since 1997 to mulitimillionaire Mayo Shattuck III, she lived in a well-kept mansion and raised three children, perfectly spaced two years apart from each other. She was devoted to exercise and clean eating. At 47, she still had a bikini body.

“She just had it all together,” Laura Lancaster, who volunteered at some of the same charities as Shattuck did, tells PEOPLE. “She dressed immaculately. Her children were beautiful and they were dressed immaculately. Her SUV was always shiny and perfectly clean inside. She was always busy but always had a smile on her face. I wanted her life; everyone did.”

But Shattuck’s life was far from perfect, a fact everyone learned when she was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old boy she met on Instagram.

The headlines practically wrote themselves. Shattuck, who had become a media sensation in 2005 when she became an NFL cheerleader at the age of 38, was back in the public eye. News outlets from Brazil to India covered the story.

“It has been surreal,” Lancaster says. “This is the same woman who went to PTA meetings and volunteered for charities, and now she’s accused of doing something awful. It really boggles the mind.”

A Faltering Marriage

Several sources tell PEOPLE that Mayo and Molly Shattuck had separated more than a year before her arrest, although their divorce became final last week.

“The marriage just wasn’t working out,” a family friend says. “They stayed together for a long time, even when it wasn’t working. It was hard on her to see her marriage falling apart, and I think she would have gone back to him if he had asked. She was struggling.”

Adding to her struggles: her husband, 60, had moved on and was seeing someone new. “I’m not excusing anything she might have done,” the family friend says, “but it was a rough time for her. She wasn’t dealing with it well.”

Shocking Allegations

Shattuck is accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy over Labor Day weekend, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. She has been charged with two counts of third-degree rape and four additional charges of second-degree unlawful sexual contact. She is also accused of providing beer to the victim and two other boys.

Shattuck’s friends are reeling over the accusations.

“If you had asked me a month ago to describe Molly, I would have told you that she’s totally devoted to [her children],” the family friend says. “She would rather die than hurt her children, which is why this hit me like a ton of bricks. The Molly I knew wasn’t capable of doing this.”

Adds Lancaster: “I read the accusations and couldn’t believe what I was reading. It just doesn’t add up to make any sense. I’ve never been so shocked in all my life.”

Community Fallout

The news of the arrest reverberated through the private school Shattuck’s children attend – and where she used to volunteer her time. The headmaster of the school, which charges between $24,350 and $27,100 per year for tuition, sent a letter to the families of all the students.

“Information regarding alleged inappropriate behavior by a current parent towards a student was brought to my attention on September 24,” he wrote. “I immediately reported the allegations to the Baltimore County Police Department. The parent has been prohibited from entering the campus and additional security measures have been in place.”

The letter blindsided many of the families whose children attended the school. “It sounds like something you’d see in a soap opera,” says Rose Herrera, whose grandson attends the high school. “I can’t say that I’m shocked that this type of thing happens in other places, but I was surprised that it happened at that school.”

Molly Shattuck resigned from all positions on numerous nonprofit charity boards. She sent a letter to the American Diabetes Association, where she had served as an outreach coordinator, and said that she was resigning “to devote more time with family.” The United Way of Central Maryland also removed her from its board. “She will no longer participate in any volunteer activities,” the group said in a statement.

Shattuck is out on $84,000 bond. As she prepares for a long legal process, friends tell PEOPLE that, guilty or not guilty, her life has changed permanently.

“I was most surprised because she had worked so hard for everything,” the family friend says. “She just seemed too logical to throw it all away like that.”

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