Day Three of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | July 27, 2018

Edit (7/27/2018) Hello Folks, I’ve removed a couple photos from this post, as that was deemed necessary for reasons we may or may not share. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Day three of the Thomas Chantry trial began with Opening Arguments. The State’s Attorney, Susan Eazer led things off. She carefully laid out her case and spoke for about one hour.  Defense Attorney John Sears followed and he spoke for about 40 minutes. I will attempt to briefly recap what both sides said. If you are triggered by graphic descriptions of sexual molestations you may not want to read this article.

The case is complex, there are five victims and numerous witnesses, therefore those unfamiliar with the case may find it difficult to follow all the details. Eazer attempted to simplify the case for the jurors by writing out a timeline on a piece of paper which was projected onto a screen.  This timeline included dates, beginning in 1995 and ending in 2015. Eazer described in detail what happened to whom and when it happened.

I will return to this, but first, let me describe the tactics Defense Attorney John Sears will utilize in his defense of Tom Chantry. Sears plans on using a two-pronged defense. First, he will attempt to create doubt in the mind of the jurors regarding the accuracy of the testimony of the State’s witnesses based on their distorted memories of events which occurred around twenty years earlier. Sears stated that “memory goes to reasonable doubt” and jurors must believe that the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Chantry is guilty of the counts he is charged with. Sears will call a memory expert as a witness who will explain how human memory works and discuss distorted memory and honest, but false memory. Sears stated that “we believe many, if not all of the alleged victims, in this case, had this distorted memory.”

Second, Sears will attempt to show that leaders in the Miller Valley Baptist Church did not like Chantry. In 2000 they were told by the members of the ARBCA three-man investigative committee that Chantry would never be a pastor again. Chantry moved to Washington and seemingly disappeared. Then, in 2015 Chantry emerged in Milwaukee as a pastor. He had written a book and was attempting to get his church into the ARBCA. Miller Valley Baptist  Church leaders were angry about this and worked to prevent it from happening. Sears believes it was not just a coincidence that at this time criminal charges were brought against Chantry. He hopes to show it was a conspiracy, although he shied away from using that term because he is not a “conspiracy theorist.”

There is much I could write about today’s proceedings, but I will try to keep it short.

Susan Eazer described what happened to the victims that warranted the State charging Thomas Chantry with eight criminal counts.

Thomas Chantry became interim pastor of Miller Valley Baptist Church in June 1995. He replaced Robert Selph, a well-respected man and beloved pastor who had been there many years.  Approximately one month later, during an annual July 4th celebration the church held, Thomas Chantry punched Victim 5, a ten-year-old child, in the jaw with a closed fist, knocking him to the ground.  Chantry was reportedly not enjoying the festivities and was annoyed because he had been sprayed with water from a squirt gun. He announced that he would smack the next kid who got him wet. Victim 5 apparently never heard this warning and squirted Chantry resulting in Chantry carrying out his threat. Chantry then went into his parsonage and did not come back out. LJ, father of Victim 5, did not see the punch thrown, but he confronted Chantry when he learned what had happened. Chantry denied hitting Victim 5, saying he pushed him. The families forgave Chantry, put the incident behind them and continued to be friendly towards Chantry. They invited him over for meals many times and did whatever they could to make him feel welcome.

Thomas Chantry wrote a letter and took it to Mr. and Mrs. J, proposing he be allowed to tutor their son, Victim 2. He stated that Victim 2 seemed like a very intelligent child and Chantry would like to teach him the catechism. The Mr. and Mrs. J agreed and Victim 2 began attending these teaching sessions once or twice a week. The first session was insignificant, but beginning with the second session Chantry began spanking Victim 2. Susan Eazer stated, “these weren’t spankings, but beatings.” Chantry used his hand at times, and when he did it was unusually hard. He also used a hand-crafted paddle, a boat oar specifically crafted for the purpose, or a belt. Sometimes Victim 2 was forced to choose the instrument Chantry would use.

Here I should say that, according to Victim 2’s parents, he was a very compliant child and never had any behavior problems in school, church or home.

Chantry administered the spankings with Victim 2 either lying across his lap, bending over a table or bent over holding his ankles. WhenVictim 2 rubbed his bottom after one of the spankings Chantry stopped him from doing so stating that Victim 2 could not comfort himself, only Chantry could do that. Chantry would rub Victim 2’s bottom then he would have Victim 2 sit on his lap and he would rub his genitals, initially through his clothing.

Catechism lessons were conducted with Victim 2 over Chantry’s knee. Every wrong answer, or answer not given quickly enough resulted in a spanking to Victim 2’s bottom. On one occasion Chantry volunteered to keep Victim 2 at his house overnight. Mr. and Mrs. J. were traveling to Phoenix and Chantry suggested he babysit so they didn’t have to rush home late that night. Additionally, Victim 2 had a catechism class the next morning, so it would be easier for all to have Chantry babysit. During this time Chantry told Victim 2 “he was being punished for sins not yet committed” and told him to drop his pants and underpants. Victim 2 then received the worst beating and fondling he had ever received.

At times Victim 2’s brother, Victim 5, was at the church when Victim 2was being “tutored.” Victim 5 sometimes heard the spankings and cries of Victim 2 emitting from Chantry’s office.

Victim 2 talked about the beatings, but never about being fondled. When Victim 2’s parents learned of the bare bottom spankings his father and elder Rich Howell confronted Chantry.  Chantry said he spanked Victim 2, but never bare-bottomed. He said Victim 2 is making that up or dreamt it happened or, if it did occur, Chantry did it in his sleep.

In January of 1998, Chantry asked CL if he could tutor her son, DL. CL will testify to seeing deep purple bruises on DL’s buttocks and upper thighs. The bruises looked like he had been struck with a 2 X 4. She said DL had trouble walking.

In the summer of 1999, Chantry volunteered to tutor Victims 3 and 4. Chantry was not really interested in Victim 4, he preferred boys, although Victim 4 did receive one spanking for setting her soda on a desk without a coaster. Victim 4 did, however, witness many beatings of Victim 3.

In July 2015 Victim 1, now 18 years-old, came forward with a report of being molested by Chantry in the church. He doesn’t remember many of the details, but he knows his pants were pulled down and Chantry reached around from behind and fondled his penis for about 10 minutes. Chantry then told him not to tell anyone about this.

Of course, many more details came out in court, but this is enough for now. Testifying today were Victim 1, now twenty-one years old, and Mr. and Mrs. J, parents of Victims 2 and 5.

I will add that defense attorney John Sears did a good job challenging these witnesses on details of their memory. The witnesses difficulty in being sure of exact dates and places will undoubtedly play well into Sear’s plan to show distorted memories.

My parting thoughts:

At times it was hard listening to the testimony of Mr. and Mrs. J. The pain and grief they displayed because of what happened to their children at the hands of Thomas Chantry were very evident. They both said they wished they had done a better job of protecting their children; they wished they hadn’t placed so much trust in Chantry simply because he was a pastor; they wished they had listened/observed more closely to both verbal and non-verbal signs they had seen from Victim 2. If they knew then what they know now they would have reported Chantry to the Police. Their relationship with Victim 2 is strained, to put it mildly. Mrs. L, when asked by Susan Eazer if she had apologized to Victim 2, broke down and said through tears, yes, many times. They both expressed regret but stated as Christians forgiveness is part of life, extending grace is part of life.

Parents – be warned. Pedophiles know Christians are easy targets!

And for those of you who don’t follow my Twitter account, here is a picture of Judy Rodgers, sister of Tom Chantry. She has been attending the trial every day. After day one she took a photo of me from her car while I was talking with my friend in the parking lot of the courthouse. She is now apparently employed by the IRBS Seminary. This is the new Seminary established by the ARBCA in Texas because, apparently, nobody else gets Christianity just right!

 

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your prayers and support. Just an FYI that Todd will be in court today, and I have several professional commitments. Therefore, comment moderation may be slower. We may need up to a 24-hour window to approve everything, although the time-frame will likely be shorter.

I apologize for this. Please also note that you can sign up to receive comments even if you don’t want to comment yourself. Just select that option from the drop-down menu.

Also, I deeply regret getting grouchy with people, one day, who were trying to make this blog’s coverage as accurate as possible.

Please let us know about any problems including spelling errors. If you’re a grammar teacher, perhaps consider cutting us some slack unless the error is so bad that a sentence’s meaning is unclear. 😉

Also, you can e-mail either Todd or myself from the contact page. We can’t guarantee that e-mail correspondence will remain confidential, yet try to keep it private.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Ann carpenter

Such a travesty . Spanking children who are not your own !Reformed churches can and do worship the creature just as much as the creator . Don’t touch God’s anointed is control . People , the man that stands in your pulpit is JUST a man . Reformed churches that have tight control preach A Theology of Glory rather than A Theology of the Cross . If the reader does not know these terms I would encourage a study . However , to even find oneself accused of something like this and putting oneself in a situation like this suggest a narcistic personality disorder . Wow ,
Unbeliable . Run run run from this type of church leader .

Anonymous

Good afternoon Todd – is there any chance you could remove the other family’s names as well even though the young man is not formally named as a victim in the case? I know they would be very appreciative of that. Thanks for your consideration.

Lydia

“Hi Carol, dismissing the beating and molesting of children as “Tom obeyed his lusts for a time,” is illogical and morally repugnant.”

Yes. It’s chilling how many Christians think this way.

Lydia

Good job letting us know about Judy Rodgers. Yes, she can take your picture and you can tell us about her.

A few thoughts from reading:

The counts read as a sadistic monster preying on the most vulnerable in his care. I have a cognitive dissonance reaction about parents who trust titles and positions so completely. But I get it. One by-product of such evil is the wedge it later drives within families. The horrors have many tentacles that affect every aspect of life.

I really appreciate your insights. On another note: When I first started researching Reformed doctrine on the Internet back around ‘04, I came across Walter Chantry’s name quite often. Seems he was quite the doctrinal guru to a certain subset of the Reformed world. I never really figured that out. The McArthur followers really promoted him.

Dear Low Sparrow, I believe you 100%. Memories of being abused are etched deeply into one’s brain / body / mind.

Even when the memories are disassociated, hidden under amnesic blankets for a while, they are still there… etched, imprinted, iconic, 3-D-graphic-realtime-somatic. Memories like that don’t go away.

The victim may have perfect recall of the room or place it happened in, the wallpaper pattern on the wall, the placement of furniture, and other such things, but it’s much less common the victim will recall what the day and date was when it happened. And that is perfectly normal for the way memory works and for how traumatic events are embedded in one’s memory.

Marsha Iddings

Part of the problem, especially in the ARBCA church we attended, is that the people are taught to “trust your leaders” unquestioned. If you ask questions then you aren’t trusting your leaders.

So I can see how the Jolly’s would have not questioned anything even though their gut told them too.

There were a lot of things I questioned silently in our church, I didn’t ask because the church constitution says we are to trust our leaders and I didn’t want to be chided for not trusting them.

When our son was psychologically abused by a member of the church and the Pastor turned against us, we left the church. The deacons wife took me out to coffee and berated me for leaving. She followed up in a text message telling me it was “too bad I did not have the wisdom to trust our wise leaders”

So I understand perfectly why the Jolly’s didn’t ask more questions at the time.

The defense is likely stretching reality unless they can show that all of the witnesses for the 5 different victims are completely untrustworthy. That is not likely to happen. I think the only question in my mind will be how many of the counts will the jury find this perp guilty of? The jury may wonder at the naivety of the parents, but I doubt that will affect the outcome much. Thanks again for keeping us informed.

The Low Sparrow

“Sears will call a memory expert as a witness who will explain how human memory works and discuss distorted memory and honest, but false memory. Sears stated that “we believe many, if not all of the alleged victims, in this case, had this distorted memory.”

That’s rubbish. When you have been sexually abused, the memories are permanently burned into your brain. Sears is trying to cast doubt on those memories. There are no witnesses except the abused and the abuser so sow doubt in the jurors about the validity and truthfulness of the victims.
I’m 61 years old. I can still remember as clear as day, when I was 15, being offered a lift home by my Baptist Youth Pastor and he would stop in a quiet car park near home and kiss me on the mouth. In the UK we called it “snogging” He was very clever..kept the abuse right under the radar of “levels” of abuse. He is now a massage therapist.
As I said.. Permanently burned on my brain.

Anonymous

Where is Walt Chantry in all this? Not there supporting his son?
Lou

Pj

Why would exact dates And times really matter that much? When I was bullied by a couple kids in high school, I’m not going to remember 20 years later exact dates and times it happened so often. But I remember several specific instances and what occurred during those times. That defense is absurd and I sure hope that the prosecutor makes a point of dismantling that.

Dee Parsons

Todd
Thank you for this thorough recounting. I plan to mention it on my blog and provide a link. You truly have the makings of a journalist! well done!

KJ

So tough to read. I was at that 4th of July party. I do recall Tom being childishly upset, but I didn’t know about the incident. I actually spent part of that Summer babysitting and tutoring the XXX boys—mainly XXX with his reading. They were such sweet boys, as were his parents. I went off to seminary (SBTS) at the end of that summer, so only came home periodically. We would eventually hear about the spankings, but it was so vague and non-descript. Even after the ARBCA intervention, the details didn’t come out for a long time. Looking back, we are all so ill that we didn’t know more or do more.

Minor correction: it’s Selph not Self- yes, very good man

Headless Unicorn Guy

“I will add that defense attorney John Sears did a good job challenging these witnesses on details of their memory. The witnesses difficulty in being sure of exact dates and places will undoubtedly play well into Sear’s plan to show distorted memories.”

Gaslighting by Proxy.

“She has been attending the trial every day. After day one she took a photo of me from her car while I was talking with my friend in the parking lot of the courthouse. She is now apparently employed by the IRBS Seminary.”

Either that or by Scientology.
When is the Dead Agent Pack against you coming out?

“This is the new Seminary established by the ARBCA because, apparently, nobody else gets Christianity just right!”

Because there can only be One One True Way — MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

JHenry

I sincerely hope Eazer is proficient enough to overcome silly games concerning whether or not the time of day or exact date is recalled by victims or witnesses. Personally, it does not take decades for minute details to slip my grasp. Unlike my mother-in-law, who had instant recall of the most insignificant minutia, I struggle to sort out my own children’s birthdates – but I haven’t the slightest doubt they were born. I may not retain all of the minute details, but I am not likely to confuse whether or not an event actually happened; particularly repeated, traumatic abuse. I realize it is their job, but defense lawyers should be deeply ashamed for attempting to help criminals escape their evil actions on a technicality. If there was one charge, from one victim, it might at least be viable. The likelihood of multiple victims, especially children, making up similar stories is very slim, and these ‘false memory’ experts have allowed a lot of serious crimes against children to go unpunished. Hopefully the prosecuting attorney is adept at defeating the spuriousness of such lawyerese.

E.P.

“She is now apparently employed by the IRBS Seminary. This is the new Seminary established by the ARBCA because, apparently, nobody else gets Christianity just right!”

The IRBS (Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies) operated within the (Presbyterian) Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California for two decades. The move of IRBS leaving the nest, as it were, and opening in a new location as its own standalone seminary has been some two years in the making.
http://confessingbaptist.com/irbs-seriously-considering-a-stand-alone-seminary-more-info-at-the-sept-22-ice-cream-social-in-mansfield-tx/

Rae

Just a request for everyone reading this to keep Todd, Jana, the victims and their families, and those involved in the prosecution of this case in your thoughts and prayers. This is, and will be, an emotionally and physically exhausting process. Hearing of these horrible atrocities committed against the most innocent children and their families can be almost too much to bear. It hurts your soul to hear these things, and changes you as a person. Please pray for strength for all those courageous enough to expose this evil. Most of all, pray for justice for all those harmed. “Woe to you who cause the little ones to stumble. It would be better for you to have a millstone hung around your neck and drowned in the deepest end of the ocean.” Amen. Righteous anger – I believe that’s Scriptural.

Ted Kijeski

“Then, in 2015 Chantry emerged in Milwaukee as a pastor.” Chantry was pastoring in southern Wisconsin in 2012, and had probably been there for at least a couple of years. I remember looking up the location of his church on a visit to see my brother in Chicago.