I’d like to start out today’s recap of the Thomas Chantry trial on a positive note. It’s my opinion that if justice is done, in a week or two Thomas Chantry will have no need of his fancy suits for a good, long time. He will be trading them in for a set of bright orange prison clothes with the initials “ADC” stenciled on the front and back.
If Chantry is convicted we can thank retired pastor Dan Rydberg because he, unlike the three men on the ARBCA investigative committee, took his job seriously, understood his legal responsibilities as a mandatory reporter of abuse and had the intestinal fortitude to carry out his duty. On Wednesday, July 8, 2015, Pastor Rydberg called the Police to report that Victim #1 had been sexually abused by Thomas Chantry. His call set in motion the wheels of justice. Eighteen years after Chantry had fled Prescott because of the alleged crimes he committed between 1995-2000 and three years after Pastor Rydberg’s phone call to Police, Thomas Chantry is on trial.
It has been reported to me that at least one of the ARBCA men on the investigative committee wanted to do the right thing and report Chantry to Law Enforcement, but the parents seemed to indicate they didn’t want to do this. Furthermore, when the ARBCA Administrative Council decided to “seal” the report and tell nobody about it, any ethical resolve the three-man committee may have had to do the right thing vanished once the bullies applied a little pressure.
We hear, almost on a daily basis, of another case of sexual abuse in the Evangelical world of American Christianity. Many of these cases involve a pastor. The majority of the time the local church, or the denomination, or the national mission board, or the parachurch organization has, instead of reporting the abuse to Law Enforcement, covered the abuse up. I frequently read warnings from survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates that if you are sexually abused the last place you want to go for help is the church. Unfortunately, this advice is sound.
Pastor Rydberg is to be commended. He did the right thing. Sadly, he is the exception in the Church. His type seems to be a dying breed.
Pastor Rydberg traveled from out of state to testify in the Chantry trial today. He left the impression of a warm, kind, honest man. What a breath of fresh air! Thank you, sir.
The trial began at 9:05 A.M. with the continuing Redirect of Victim 2 by State’s Attorney, Susan Eazer.
Victim 2 had written a letter to the ARBCA three-man investigative committee in November 2000. This letter detailed many of the horrors he endured at the hands of Thomas Chantry. Victim 2 was 16 years old when he wrote the letter and not yet to the point where he felt safe in telling others that the routine spankings he received from Chantry also involved Chantry fondling his genitals for approximately ten minutes. Victim 2 revealed this information six years later when the Prescott Police interviewed him.
Included in the letter was the information that Chantry took down his pants because he “wanted to see my buttocks turn red” when he spanked me. (Victim 2 later revealed to police that after the spanking Chantry fondled his genitals skin to skin.)
When Victim 2 spent the night at Chantry’s home, Chantry “started out as an angel but soon turned into a demon.”
Chantry revealed two new paddles which would be used that night.
Victim 2 said on the days he was to go to Chantry’s for his after-school tutoring sessions he sat in dread all day at school.
Victim 2 said he hated Chantry and knew he would continue until someone stops him.
Exhibit 65 was shown to Victim 2. It was a letter he had written pastor Don Lindblad. Victim 2 had attempted to get in contact with Chantry in 2006. Chantry did not respond but instead had Lindblad respond on his behalf. Lindblad had told Victim 2 that Chantry had no interest in talking to him. In his response to Lindblad Victim 2 said he was not going away and would show up at Chantry’s church if necessary.
In 2006 Chantry agreed to a three-way phone call with Victim 2 and Don Lindblad. Victim 2 thought about calling the police on Chantry after the phone call but his parents told him not to.
In 2009 Victim 2 attempted to reach Chantry again. When questioned as to why he did this he responded: “I wanted to keep him away from kids.”
State’s Attorney Eazer finished her Redirect by asking Victim 2 if he will ever forget what Chantry did to him?
Victim 2 firmly responded, “I will not.”
@10:53 the State called Victim 3 to the witness stand.
My impressions of Victim 3 were that he was very believable. He clearly is deeply troubled by what he suffered at the hands of Chantry. Many times when he was asked about details of the Chantry beatings he had received he would have difficulty overcoming his emotions and speaking. His body language depicted a wounded, fearful soul. When recalling a specific event he would rub his hands up and down his legs and sink back in his chair. However, when asked to identify Chantry in the court, or asked what he thought of Chantry he seemed to be a different person. He channeled his hatred of Chantry into boldness and strength, defiantly pointing out the man as if to say to Chantry, you no longer have power over me.
His testimony concerning what his life as a child consisted of mirrored much of what the other victims had said. He was raised in a religious home. He was taught to respect his elders, his church, and his pastor. His family attended church all day on Sunday and again on Wednesday evening, he was basically a good child and rarely needed to be disciplined.
During the summer of 1999 Chantry had agreed to babysit/tutor three children, Victim 3, his sister (Victim 4) and DL. Almost immediately Chantry began spanking the children for inconsequential, minor things. The spankings were very hard and were administered with a boat oar, a paddle or his hand. After the spankings, Chantry would rub his butt and be forced to hug Chantry.
Victim 3 recalled several specific incidents of spankings. One time they were in the yard of the parsonage and Chantry wanted to play croquet. Victim 3 was not interested in playing, he preferred playing Pokemon or drawing. Tom took him to his office, took his pants down and spanked him very hard with his hand.
Chantry frequently told Victim 3 that disobeying him was like disobeying God. He told him if he told his parents about anything he would not get into heaven. Sometimes Chantry spanked him for disobedience and sometimes for acts not yet committed.
Victim 3 said he was spanked multiple times with his pants down. The spankings left bruises or marks. He and his sister had told their parents about the spankings after the first time and their father had then confronted Chantry. This seemed to result in more spankings delivered harder. So the three children made a pact among themselves to not tell their parents about the spankings and to try to protect each other.
Victim 3 was interviewed by the three-man ARBCA investigative committee. He told them about the bare bottoms spankings and the bruisings. He was told they would take care of everything.
When asked by the Defense Attorney, John Sears what he thought should have been done Victim 3 replied that someone should have gone to the police, Tom should have been arrested.
Sears responded, “Eighteen years ago?”
Victim 3 answered, “Yes.”
At 2:12 P.M. the State called Victim 4 to the stand.
My impression of Victim 4 was that she was a very strong witness. She spoke clearly and strongly and had a good memory of most events.
Victim 4 is the sister of Victim 3. She was with Victim 3 and DL during the tutoring sessions in the summer of 1999. She was spanked once by Chantry and she stated it was the hardest she has ever been struck in her life. She said it knocked the wind out of her. She witnessed one spanking of her brother and many times she heard her brother and the other victim scream and cry from the spankings they received.
She felt guilty that she could do nothing to protect her brother. Chantry told her not to tell her parents and said, “God is not going to love you and I am not going to love you if you disobey me.”
She believed Chantry and believed God might punish her and she would not get into heaven if she disobeyed Chantry.
She said she never liked Chantry because he was angry, loud, abrupt and had a “holier than thou” attitude.
Victim 4 said she talked to the ARBCA three-man investigative committee for around an hour. The committee told her parents that, “Tom would no longer be a pastor ever again.” She remembers her parents being quite shocked when they heard that Chantry was once again a pastor.
At 4:10 P.M. the State called TW to the witness stand. He is the father of Victims 3 and 4. He was questioned for about 20 minutes and then around 4:30 P.M. the Judge called a halt to the proceedings for the day.
The jury was dismissed and then they discussed a request by Eazer to call her witnesses out of order because a few of them were having scheduling difficulties and she wanted to get them on the stand tomorrow. The Defense and Judge agreed to this. TW’s testimony will be suspended and he will be brought back at a later time.
The Judge also admonished the Attorneys for repetitively asking witnesses the same question. He said he could not ask them to shorten their examinations, but told them they were falling behind schedule and needed to attempt to turn the case over to the jury as scheduled.
IMO Sears is the major culprit here. The man is a seasoned lawyer so perhaps he has a strategy involved in laboriously going over timelines and details that appear to me, a legal neophyte, to have no bearing on the case. For example, he put a photo of the parsonage on the overhead and then asked Victim 4 to describe in detail the interior of the house. She did an amazing job of describing the place, but that was not the end of it. Sears then pointed to each window along the side of the house and asked what room each window was in. On and on he went, it was quite painful to sit through. I can only hope tomorrow they heed the Judge’s admonition.