Day Four of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | July 29, 2018

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I will begin my recap of day four of the Chantry trial by explaining what the issue was with the removal of a photo of Tom Chantry from my article on the third day of the trial. Let me preface this by saying that I did not publish the article of the third day of the trial (Thursday’s activities) until Friday morning at approximately 6:30 A.M.

I entered the courtroom at approximately 8:50 A.M. for the scheduled starting time of 9:00 A.M. In the gallery were the same individuals that have been present throughout the trial – Chantry’s four supporters, a journalist from the local Verde Independent News, myself and one other man whom I don’t know. Judge Astrowsky and Counsel for both the Defense and Prosecution were in Judge Astrowsky’s chamber. They emerged at approximately 9:30 A.M. and went on the record. Judge Astrowsky then addressed the media. He defined media as not only the traditional media sources but also those who write blogs or other forms of social media. His definition applied to two of the seven of us in the gallery – Kelcie Grega of the Verde Independent News and myself. At issue was this photo, which I had included in my blog. Judge Astrowsky said the photo had put the safety of the defendant at risk and therefore ordered the media to not publish anything that could compromise the safety of the defendant. He then summarized a legal decision which he believed gave him the right to order this. (I am summarizing what Judge Astrowsky said, but will attempt to obtain a transcript next week.) He then asked both Susan Eazer and John Sears for comments. Eazer had none. Sears made it clear that he was the one who brought this matter to the attention of Judge Astrowsky and he had apparently suggested a course of action which was more restrictive than what Judge Astrowsky ordered. Sears wanted his suggestion implemented, but Judge Astrowsky believed his order was sufficient. He then advised the media to comply with his order or face further restrictions.

During the first recess, I spoke with my assistant and asked her to remove the photograph from my article published that morning. But I was surprised to find the court was not finished with the matter. After the jury members were excused for lunch Judge Astrowsky and the attorneys for both sides again addressed the issue for about five minutes. Nothing significant came from their discussion and I went to lunch. I returned from lunch at approximately 1:25 P.M. and was again surprised to find Judge Astrowsky and the attorneys in the middle of yet another discussion on the subject. As I listened I learned that Judge Astrowsky had vacated his order given in the morning. John Sears appeared to be unhappy with the decision and argued for retaining Judge Astrowsky’s order by presenting a hypothetical scenario in which bloggers may compromise the safety of those in the court. Judge Astrowsky was not persuaded.

It was now apparent that my blog was the item which caused all this angst. I am left to wonder if the safety of Sears’ client was the sole motivating factor of his bringing the photograph on my blog to the attention of Judge Astrowsky. I am also amazed that the Defense team is monitoring my blog so closely. In the window of approximately two hours, since I published my article, they had alerted the judge to their safety concerns, come up with a proposed action and were engaged in a closed meeting in the Judge’s chambers!

While I am now free to republish the photo I had removed from my blog, I have chosen not to do so. Its inclusion in my article is not necessary to the narrative of what occurred on day three of Chantry’s trial. I will add that I am a peaceful man who believes in law and order and our criminal justice system. In no way do I condone any type of illegal or criminal behavior.  That said, I fail to see how the photograph in question jeopardizes the safety of Tom Chantry. I will leave the reader to speculate on the reason Judge Astrowsky vacated his order, adding only that I am glad he did. As I have said throughout the trial, he seems like a kind, sincere, humble man dedicated to fairness and justice. The way he handled this matter has increased my respect for him.

On to the business of the trial.

The jury pool took their first hit. A juror revealed some information to the court which caused her to be excused. 14 jurors remain.

At 9:50 A.M. the State called Victim 5 to the witness stand. Now 35 years old, Victim 5 was 12 years old when Tom Chantry assaulted him by punching him with a closed fist to the left side of his face. The blow knocked him to the ground. Victim 5 stated he had never been punched that hard before. He remembers being shocked by Tom Chantry’s punch and said a bunch of adults came over to him.

The circumstances surrounding the assault were a 4th of July celebration on the grounds of the Miller Valley Baptist Church and parsonage. Tom Chantry had been the pastor of the church for approximately one month. Chantry had walked down from the front porch of the parsonage and told the children not to squirt him. Victim 5 responded by promptly squirting Chantry in the chest. Chantry then rapidly walked over to Victim 5 and “clocked” him.

Victim 5 is the brother of Victim 2. Victim 5 was never tutored by Chantry, but his brother was tutored twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Chantry would pick the two boys up from school and drive them to the church where the tutoring would take place. Victim 5 said they were always the only three in the church. He would do his homework in the church while Victim 2 was in his tutoring session in the office of Tom Chantry. Victim 5 testified that he would hear Victim 2 being spanked and then crying and whimpering every session. At this point in the questioning Victim 5 broke down and wept.

Victim 5 said he told his parents about the spankings his brother was receiving on two or three occasions. He did not know about the molestation.

Victim 5 said he was not interviewed by the ARBCA investigative committee in 2000. He was interviewed by the police in 2015 but still was not aware of the sexual molestation of his brother by Tom Chantry.

John Sears began his cross-examination of Victim 5 at 10:30 A.M. My impression was that Sears was tedious and badgered Victim 5. He would ask the same question in a slightly different manner several times. Susan Eazer objected several times stating “asked, answered.” As I recall, most of her objections were sustained. At one point Sears had repetitively asked Victim 5 about the ARBCA investigation, Victim 5 replied, obviously annoyed, that “I already told you I was not interviewed by them.”

One interesting exchange occurred when Sears was questioning Victim 5 about what he heard during the tutoring session. Sears established the fact that these sessions took place in Chantry’s office behind closed doors. Victim 5 told Sears he heard the spankings and the crying. Sears responded, but you never saw the spankings take place, correct? Victim 5 told Sears that was not correct. Sears did a double take and asked how he had seen his brother being spanked by Chantry if the spankings took place in Chantry’s office and the door was closed? Victim 5 said the door had a window and on one occasion he had looked through it and seen his brother over Tom’s lap with his pants pulled down getting spanked by Chantry’s bare hand! Sears was flabbergasted. He said this was new information and asked Victim 5 if he had ever reported this to anyone before. “No sir,” replied Victim 5. Sears challenged this new revelation but Victim 5 stuck to his guns and insisted he witnessed it.

Sears also attempted to discredit Victim 5’s statement that Chantry had punched him in the face. He said the police report stated he had been punched in the face or chest, so was it possible that had actually been punched in the chest instead of the face? Victim 5 said no, he had been punched in the face. Questioned as to why the police report said face or chest, Victim 5 said he did not know, but he had always said he had been punched in the face. Later, in the redirect, Eazer asked about this. Victim 5 offered a possible solution, saying the police interview occurred over the phone while he was in the car. He had pulled over to the side of a freeway and it was rather noisy so perhaps the police detective did not clearly hear him.

My impressions of Victim 5’s testimony is very favorable. He did a great job and I would think the jurors would agree that he was speaking truthfully about Chantry punching him in the face.

At 11:43 the State called Victim 2 to the witness stand. This was a crucial witness for the State as four of the eight criminal complaints Chantry is charged with deal with the sexual molestation of Victim 2.

In my opinion, Victim 2 came through with flying colors. His testimony was gripping, compelling and emotionally draining. I was choking back tears a few times.

In the year 2000 Victim 2 wrote to the ARBCA investigative committee that Chantry was a “Sick, Twisted Monster.” After sitting through his testimony I would agree.

It appears that shortly after Chantry arrived at the Miller Valley Baptist Church he had Victim 2 in his sights. He wrote a letter to Victim 2’s parents stating that he was a very bright child and school wouldn’t be challenging enough for him. He proposed they let him tutor their son, stating that he had been tutored when he was young and it had been very beneficial for him. The parents of Victim 2 agreed and shortly thereafter, in August or September of 1995 the tutoring lessons began. These lessons took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Miller Valley Baptist Church.

Victim 2 stated that the first tutoring session was normal, but after that, he received spankings every session. The molestation began in October of 1995. After spanking him Chantry would have him sit in his lap and rub his butt and then work his way to his genitals. This took place every session, initially through his clothes, but later with his pants pulled down. Chantry typically fondled him for 10 minutes.

Sometimes Victim 2 was spanked as he lay across Chantry’s knees, other times bent over a desk, other times he was standing and was told to bend over and grab his ankles. Different instruments were used in the spankings, sometimes it was Chantry’s hand, sometimes a long, green willow switch, sometimes a paddle that Chantry had hand-crafted.

Victim 2 recalled being told many times by Chantry that “disobeying me is disobeying God.” He believed Chantry. He was also told that Chantry was doing this for his benefit and he was not to tell anyone what took place in the tutoring sessions.

During Christmas vacation Victim 2’s parents were taking a trip to Phoenix. Chantry volunteered to babysit Victim 2 at his house so the parents would not have to rush home that night. There was a tutoring class scheduled for the next morning, so it worked well to have Victim 2 spend the night at the parsonage, alone with Tom.

Chantry had obviously been planning this sleep over for some time. It seems Tom did a little woodworking on the side because shortly after Victim 2 arrived at the parsonage he unveiled a new, custom-made paddle he had crafted. It had a custom fitted handle and was nicely varnished. Victim 2 said Tom was quite proud of it.

Tom then instructed Victim 2 in a little church history. He told him that the church used to have monks. The senior monks had younger monks under them and they would punish them for sins that they had not found out about. Tom was now going to do the same to Victim 2. He instructed him to pull his pants down because he “wanted to see his butt turn red.” After the spanking he was, as usual, forced to sit on Tom’s lap while, for the first time, Tom rubbed his butt and then fondled his genitals skin to skin.

I could relate more of the horrors victim 2 was forced to endure, but I think this is sufficient to convince you that Victim 2’s description of Chantry of being a sick, twisted monster” is accurate.

Victim 2 told repeatedly told his parents of the spankings. Their response was that he must have done something to deserve it, and he needed to study harder. They also told him he was fortunate to be able to be tutored by the pastor. He never told his parents of the sexual molestation because he felt he would not be believed,  was ashamed and felt that somehow it was his fault.

Victim 2 was ten years old when all this physical and sexual abuse occurred in 1995. In 2006 he wanted to confront Chantry. He tracked him down and wrote him a letter through his church stating that he wanted to speak with him. Chantry had a friend of his, Don Lindblad (an ARBCA pastor in the Seattle area) respond to Victim 2. Lindblad told him that Chantry was not interested in speaking with him. Victim 2 persisted and told Lindblad he wasn’t going away. Chantry finally agreed to a three-way phone call between him, Lindblad and Victim 2. Unfortunately, Victim 2 did not receive much satisfaction from the phone call.

Susan Eazer questioned Victim 2 why he had never told anyone about the sexual molestation? He responded, “Because I never have liked talking about it. I don’t like talking about it here today.”

Powerful stuff. May God grant him justice.


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