Day Five of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | August 1, 2018

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 fifteen 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.

 

 

 

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Tim Fulton

Hi I attended Grace Reformed Baptist Church when Tom Chantry was a member there and got to know him his father and his mother. I also know his father-in-law and never did I ever witness anything of the sort that Tom is charged with. I also attended Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Milwaukee where Tom was the pastor for over a year. Never in all my time attending there did I ever witness any of the egregious things Tom is charged with. As a mental health professional with over 20 years experience I feel I am a good if not excellent judge of character. I honestly find it very hard to believe the things that Tom is charged with. I also find it very disheartening that this blog has already decided on his fate and his guilt. On more than one occasion I have seen children influenced by parents or other adults so that they embellish incidents. I honestly feel that could well be what is happening here. As the father of five children who are now grown adults if Tom is in fact guilty of the things he is charged with I would hope that he would receive the full penalty of the law. Once again I just want to emphasize in all my times knowing Tom and witnessing his dealings with children many times in both church-related and social activities never in all these times did I ever witness anything remotely of the things he is charged with.

May I ask what type of mental health professional you are, since that appears to be the sole basis of your perceived (by you) credibility?

Are you aware that Tom Chantry has not publicly claimed to be innocent of the allegations against him, apart from pleading not guilty in court? In other words, he’s never said, “I didn’t beat up and molest little kids.” He could make that statement and still plead the 5th amendment in court.

Why should others presume that Mr. Chantry is innocent when even he doesn’t seem to believe that, in your expert opinion?

Does not claiming to be innocent of heinous crimes reflect great character in your opinion?

Also, is it possible that you didn’t witness any of the criminal behavior for which Mr. Chantry is being tried, because he was interested in beating and molesting children, not grown men?

If you were familiar with mental health issues pertaining to sexual abuse cases, you would also know that many pedophiles are very charming and are well liked socially. That’s how they get away with doing what they do.

It looks to me that you haven’t read any of the content on this blog, as it contains many credible primary and secondary sources regarding facts about this case. I’m assuming that you care about facts, as well as gut instincts.

In particular, please review the legal document in the following post.

It proves that ARBRA leaders deliberately covered up credible allegations of abuse against Tom Chantry for many years. I suspect that you also believe that many of these pedophilia enablers have great character, too, given the bias you’ve expressed.

I don’t know whether you are a good judge of character. However, I am not impressed by your lack of professionalism. A good mental health expert would look at facts, not just spout empty platitudes about what a great judge of character he is.

Have a nice day.
Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

On more than one occasion I have seen children influenced by parents or other adults so that they embellish incidents. I honestly feel that could well be what is happening here.

Just so you know, buddy, I think that your ignorance is slandering sexual abuse victims and embarrassing you. If you had actually researched this case, you’d know that all the victims are now adults not children. They are not 5-year-olds being manipulated by their parents or unprofessional adults like you. Nor have you cited any serious reason for thinking that specific victims in this case are unreliable or lying. Apparently, the fact that you like Tom Chantry is sufficient to acquit him of all wrongdoing.

I think I’m a good judge of character, too. In my opinion, you have no integrity or credibility whatsoever. I feel sorry for anyone who’s ever been entrusted to your care. The comment policy of this blog necessitates backing up comments with intelligent reasoning or good sources. I think that your comment fundamentally fails those tests. If you’re interested in referencing facts and actually reading the content on this blog, you’re welcome to comment again. If you just want to mindlessly defend Tom Chantry because he’s your buddy, then there are other places on the internet to do that.

As the father of five children who are now grown adults if Tom is in fact guilty of the things he is charged with I would hope that he would receive the full penalty of the law.

A person could be forgiven for thinking otherwise based on the content of your entire comment.

Have a nice day. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

It occurred to me that some of these victims were indeed coerced by an evil adult when they were children. Tom Chantry told them that God would be angry at them if they reported that he was beating or molesting them. That is their sworn testimony. In my opinion, the document I pointed you to earlier also proves that several of Tom Chantry’s friends and family members, including his parents and father-in-law, likely, conspired to discourage children and their parents from reporting abuse to the police, as was their ethical and, in some cases, legal duty.

I’m normally a nice person, Mr. Fulton. 😉 However, I am also bipolar and rely on many mental health professionals for assistance. The idea that a mental heath professional would disregard facts just because he considers himself an infallible judge of character and then, so casually, appear to conclude that children he knew nothing about were lying about being sexually abused, makes me physically ill.

I hope that you are normally a good mental health expert and that your affection for Tom Chantry has just clouded your judgment, in this case. When I have time to find them, I will reference sources indicating that only 1-5% of allegations of child sexual abuse are false. Therefore, the statistical likelihood that Tom Chantry is completely innocent of the crimes of which he is accused is a fraction of one percent, given that there are multiple victims whose stories were backed up by enough evidence to have him charged and indicted for harming them.

Thank you. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Cassie

How dare you. You are “a good judge of character.” Please. Spare us. You didn’t see the bruises. You aren’t living with he kids that are STILL dealing with the emotional trauma 30 years later. Keep your small minded comments. 6 kids with exactly the same story?! Only 5 would testify bc the 6th can’t even cope with life still bc of all this. You are BLIND.

James Altvater

None of you know me, my wife and Tom are cousins. I have known Tom for many years and I have recently been made more aware of this issue simply because of the recent official trial. After reading most of the comments on this blog, it appears that Tom is guilty in all of your minds. So be it. I am not the one who knows the ultimate truth, only God almighty does. You don’t know the ultimate truth either. I however, am having a very hard time accepting that Tom Chantry has done all the things mentioned here. It is just too far of a leap in my mind to imagine that these things were done by him. No, I believe there may be something else at work here, and my prayer is that it is revealed. I will not claim that Tom is innocent either. If he is guilty, truly in the eyes of God, Tom should suffer the consequences given him, and he should feel the utmost remorse for hurting those children all those years ago. Most of you are behaving as if the court system in this country, and in this case, is infallible; as if innocent people have never gone to jail unjustly. Do you really believe that every accusation of crime is authentic? Of course we all know this is not true. However, I must tell you that if there is a scheme here to put an innocent man in jail. A scheme to take him from his ministry. A scheme to take him from his wife and children. Don’t think for one second that the ultimate judge, the Lord God Almighty, will not let a horrible scheme to slander an innocent Christian servant go unpunished. If he is guilty, he deserves punishment. If he is truly not guilty in the eyes of God, I pray that God will reveal it because that crime would be a spiritual attack on His church.

I pray that the truth be revealed, but I feel a strange darkness in the circumstances surrounding this case.

To God be all the Glory, let His truth be revealed.

Rae

Janna (got the spelling right this time!) – thank you, thank you, thank you! You are exactly right – hypocrisy run amok. My kids went to a Baptist church sponsored school and it was all about appearances and legalism. The kids would get a demerit if they missed a belt loop or their shirt became untucked (after so many demerits – you got in school suspension), yet the music teacher and esteemed member of the school board was arrested and sent to state prison for molesting boys on the school property. Gimme a break.

Many years before that, we attended a Sovereign Grace sponsored church (another hornet’s nest), and there was a woman who attended who was older, had been alone for many years, and started having an illicit (gasp!) affair – she was brought before the whole church, called out for her sin, and told she had to repent or else find another church. Shortly thereafter, a young man was found to be doing the same thing; however, he was treated very differently. It was like, “Well, he stumbled and gave in to his desires. We need to be understanding and give him another chance.” Barf. This “boys will be boys mentality” needs to stop also.

Thanks, no worries about the spelling of my name. I sign as Janna L. Chan, because there is a Janna W. Chan. We don’t want people to mix us up. There are many so many “Janas” out there that I don’t worry about being mixed up with them. Most of my advocacy work has involved Sovereign Grace Churches, so I know what you’re talking about. A Sovereign Grace church did publicly excommunicate a man for committing fornication. Their church discipline system has no integrity or consistency.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

M. Wiggins

I’ve been an attorney for many years, and in my opinion the analysis of many here is correct: Sears is very obviously setting up a scenario in which he can poke holes in the stories based on misstatements. Surely someone has said something that was inaccurate under cross. I don’t know how many windows are in my own house offhand and probably would make some errors if someone showed me pictures of my current house and asked which room was this or that was in. Who here could do it all with cocksure 100% accuracy under the pressure of cross examination before a jury? As one who has gotten tongue-tied and had my mind go blank in court before (and most lawyers and witnesses have probably shared this experience), I say “good luck” to those who think they could just rattle off even basic information about themselves and their recent activities without a hitch or a pounding heart under such circumstances.

If I had a client who had numerous witnesses testifying against him, I’d be forced to do the exact same thing: pick away at the edges, find something amiss, then hammer at it. What else does he have but pointing out inaccuracies, then waving his arms in front of the jury about burdens of proof and standards of proof?

Appalled

Thank you for your work. Unfortunately having been a member at this ARBCA church I know all these men very well. I am astonished and appalled at what is going on here and the lengths to which they are going to prove his “innocence”. I know the mantra of “innocent until proven guilty” but this man was proven guilty in my opinion in the initial police reports. Unfortunately Mr. Huber (father-in-law) will not stop and I fear for those under his care, the people in his church that have to endure this heartwrenching saga and hear him preach about “spiritual persecution” from the pulpit in reference to Tom’s situation… May God have mercy on all involved

Dee Parsons

Thank you, Todd! Excellent write up. Chantry makes me sick!!!! I believe and stand with the victims.

Lydia

“Also, people who covered up allegations of abuse against Tom Chantry can almost certainly
be sued in civil court. The bar for winning cases in civil court is “a preponderance of evidence.” That is much easier to establish than the “proof beyond a resdinable doubt” standard used in criminal cases.”.

I had not thought of this. Oh my.

“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.”

This just burns my biscuits. Surely, this sort of thing will backfire?

Amy M

I believe Sears does have a strategy behind the questions he keeps asking and re-asking. I believe the weight of his defense will hinge on trying to persuade the jury that the victims suffer from False Memory Syndrome. He will call in at least one expert witness to carefully explain this syndrome to the jury. The expert witness will overwhelm jurors with case studies proving that some memories of past events, including sexual offenses, can be false. This issue was a big deal back in the early 1990’s when Recovered Memory Therapy was being used. Some of the “recovered memories” of past child abuse could not be substantiated or simply did not occur. Well meaning therapists were guiding patients to recover past traumas, often through guided imagery hypnosis, and in doing so may have subtly implanted some suggestions that were then extrapolated. This phenomenon impacted some criminal cases, some involving innocent daycare workers. This isn’t meant to be an in-depth explanation of either psychological term. I’m just reading the legal tea leaves here. First, Sears is making the victims state how long ago the crimes occurred over and over, hoping that they may be off by a year or two, but if not, it is still relevant in emphasizing the alleged crimes occurred a really long time ago. Look how many times the pastors at Highpoint Memphis stated that the Andy Savage assault occurred TWO DECADES ago. They pounded on that time frame over and over, because humans assume that time heals all wounds so something that happened 20 years ago isn’t a big deal that the offender needs to be punished severely for. If it was a big deal, it would have been brought up sooner. For many reasons, this is NOT how child sexual assault reporting works. The questioning of building structural and architectural details, including where the windows were, will also go to false memory syndrome. At a later point Sears will question how the victims could see or hear what they claim they saw and heard when this window is X number of feet away, or this room had sound-proofing insulation or you said you were in this room when you heard the crying but that isn’t physically possible, or whatever. He is trying to trip them up on small details in order to suggest that when they said they recalled this or that detail – “A-HA! They were wrong! That window did not even exist back in the ’90’s so how can we trust anything they are now saying?!” It’s a fishing expedition of sorts, but really, what else does Sears have to work with? It’s not the typical he said/she said – now let’s just discredit each victim, one by one. It’s he said, and he said, and he said, and she said, and he and she saw and heard and so on. The jury should decide based on the cumulative overwhelming evidence: There are too many witnesses who lived through Chantry’s torture with very similar patterns of abuse and predator preferences coming to light. Sears’ (defense team) only hope is to convince the jurors that the kids are suffering from false memory syndrome and that perhaps one of their therapists planted the seeds of the molestation in what was otherwise just a spanking. Then the kids got together and compared notes and voila! They cooked up this abuse scheme to get even with a pastor they all intensely disliked. Watch and see if Sears doesn’t say or do something that allows for the disdain the victims and their parents have for Chantry to be on display? He wants the jury to see vendetta written on this, for his closing argument. Hopefully, the state will bring their own expert witness forensic psychologist who can carefully explain to the jury what the mental disorder of paraphilia is and explain the extreme levels of sexual gratification that Chantry got from planning and executing his acts of sexual sadism against powerless victims. The terror and intimidation the children experienced as Chantry unveiled his custom made implements of torture and talked with eager anticipation of turning their bottoms red with them, gave him supreme sexual fulfillment. Forcing them to choose which device would inflict their imminent pain was a form of psychological terrorism to these kids but also a form of sexual arousal to Chantry. The state needs to bring their own experts in to explain this because the average American is not familiar with deviant sexual behavior and paraphilias which are incurable, so locking up Chantry is the only way we have to keep the public safe from his deviant acts. In some states, the act of doing anything to a minor to fulfill the sexual gratification of an authority figure can be a felony, regardless of what body parts were touched. So the spankings and bottom rubbing alone could convict Chantry. However, Arizona has no such law. The sentences for convictions of sexually abusing children in Arizona are extremely harsh. When The Dangerous Crimes Against Children Act was passed (in the late ’80’s I believe) it was one of the harshest laws passed at the time. The Trial Lawyers Association was up in arms. Some factions in the judiciary resented the implementation of such high minimum sentences. Judges are used to having a lot of judicial discretion. This Act removed that from them. The real fangs in this law wasn’t just the high minimums of time served, but that sentences could not be suspended and could not be served concurrently. Concurrent sentences are often administered, which is why the public can see criminals who commit a lot of crimes getting out after just a few years of time served. The one counter-balance to the Dangerous Crimes Against Children Act, is that the genitals or anus must be touched in order for the state to recognize the crime as a sexual assault of a child. Again, this is different from other states. Because the penalties for a… Read more »

Lydia

Thanks Amy.

JHenry

“Sears’ (defense team) only hope is to convince the jurors that the kids are suffering from false memory syndrome and that perhaps one of their therapists planted the seeds of the molestation in what was otherwise just a spanking.”

What alarms me is how successful this ‘false memory syndrome’ has been at letting many alleged serious abusers go free. This entire ‘syndrome’ was cooked up when seriously sick charges were brought against daycare institutions, like the McMartin preschool in the eighties. If one looks at official documents, and the statements of those involved in this investigation – as with many similar ones – there were undeniable physical and emotional scars of abuse present, as well as knowledge of abusive sexual situations by extremely young children. These children could describe events, and even smells, that no one could make up without firsthand knowledge. These children told the same stories, independently of one another, of systemic, yes, even satanic, sexual and physical abuse. Abuse so serious that no one wanted to believe it was true. Abuse charges that were made in other similar institutions, also charged to ‘false memories’.

If one researches this and similar investigations, one of the first troubling discoveries made is that the creation of the concept of ‘false memory syndrome’ was spearheaded by a San Francisco couple who once published an incestual pedophile magazine.

One of the logically troubling implications behind such charges is that it requires a willingness to believe in a conspiracy, if you will, of psychologists across the country to implant horrific, unthinkable ‘false memories’ in countless young children’s minds. This, we are told, is more believable than the existence of actual satanic sexually abusive rings that prey upon children in daycare.

Although I have not studied this extensively, as the subject matter is so traumatic, I have researched enough to believe that this ‘false memory syndrome’ has been used, and continues to be used, despite little evidence of its truthfulness, to defend alleged abusers of children for all sorts of physical and sexual abuse. These situations almost always involve physical evidence, witnesses who testify to things they saw and heard, and other proof that would otherwise be inexplicable, such as a very young child recognizing a person or place they had supposedly never seen, but which they had implicated in their abuse.

I honestly cannot understand how anyone could abuse or harm a child. It is simply, utterly unthinkable that someone would use an innocent little one for their own sexual gratification. But I will add that it is almost more preposterous to believe that psychologists and law enforcement individuals either conspire to, or somehow ‘accidentally’ implant false stories of abuse in the minds of young children. If you research these cases, you will almost always find D.A.’s, psychologists, parents and others who remain convinced that the abuse happened, but the ‘false memory syndrome’ hypothesis managed to introduce enough of an element of doubt in jurists’ minds that the alleged perpetrators went free. Often in spite of much incontrovertible evidence.

I consider this completely unacceptable, and most people are unaware of how this system works. We decry the continuing of abuse due to lack of reporting, but ignore the very real and terrible fact that many, many people have gone through great trauma and personal suffering to report abuse that ‘the system’ then allows to go unpunished. Think of the trauma, first of being abused by a trusted authority, then of bravely telling parents and others who often find it difficult to believe, then of having a public trial, with credible evidence, yet being declared a liar who simply made up or had implanted a false story. Which is the greater crime – the horrible trauma of being abused, or the double indignity of being abused by a faulty justice system which allows abusers to go free and destroys the lives of victims?

JHenry

It would seem to me that if we are serious about preventing the abuse of children, one of the dragons that must be slayed is the ‘false memory syndrome’ which cannot be proven as an existent entity. It is an alleged syndrome that, as far as I can tell, has undergone no serious scholarly study and has little grounding in evidence. Little children do not make up wild stories of sexual or other abusive incidents of which few adults could imagine, let alone a small child. Add to this the fact of multiple victims telling similar stories, and most reasonable people – minus some wild-eyed conspiracy like ‘false memory syndrome’ – are going to reach the logical conclusion that the abuse charges have merit.

This situation is similar to the countless charges of ‘shaken baby syndrome’ which are now being challenged by experts that insist it rests on unproven charges and ill-supported evidence. (An infant who is shaken hard enough to cause severe brain injury would, necessarily have serious neck injury as well, which has not been the case.)

Cheryl

“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.”

I am confused about the timeline here. Victim 2 was interviewed by the Prescott Police in 2006 (6 years after he wrote the letter in 2000) and told them of the sexual abuse? Was nothing done then, is the time lapse different, or am I missing something?

Vince Wood

Todd, thank you for reporting. I thank God for Pastor Rydberg. I am not sure that he is the exception as he know of many of us who work hard to protect the victims. When we do our job, nobody notices. When other’s fail, we are painted with the same brush.

Headless Unicorn Guy

“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.”

I know this drill.
It’s an old Debater’s trick beloved by sociopaths going for the kill (Twirl those Pens!)
Nitpicking for any flaw, ANY TRIVIAL FLAW WHATOSEVER in victim’s memory that he can expand to discredit her entire testimony Because She Couldn’t Remember It EXACTLY RIght! HOW CAN WE TRUST ANY OF HER TESTIMONY?

Headless Unicorn Guy

“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.”

From reading this and other watchblogs, diddling kids has become another Privilege of Pastoral Rank.

But then in pagan Roman culture, Paterfamilias had total sexual rights over all his animate property as Privilege of Rank…

“DUDE! YOU! HAVE! SEX! WITH! CHILDREN!”
South Park, Stan’s comeback to the NAMBLAns justification speech at the end of “Cartman Joins NAMBLA”

Headless Unicorn Guy

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.

Has he been PUNISHED for it yet?

Mark

It appears to me that Sears’s case hinges completely on challenging the memory of the victims. He’s going to call in experts that say that their memories of the events were garbled and that in the intervening time the reality of what happened has been (presumably) exaggerated and has taken on.

So, the clarity of the victims’ accounts here is not playing well to the defense’s game. I had an abusive incident that was life changing, and while I remember the circumstances surrounding it, I couldn’t have told you the date (even the year) or the time without trying to correlate it with other evidence. It’s not as if, when I was eight or nine years old, I could say, on November 11th at 8PM, this happened. But… the defense is going to try and sow doubt into the jury. If they can’t even remember ____ then how do you know that ____ is true? Which is why I think there is going to be an excessive focus on trivia. What color was the room? What was he wearing? What did the paddle look like? How many times did he hit you? Then, the defense is going to somehow march out “facts” that question the victims’ accounts. Well, the room was green, not blue, and he didn’t own a tweed sportscoat, and, in fact, the paddle was varnished, not coated in poly.

I think the other game, and I don’t understand how this is a valid legal theory, is to complain that the intervening time, and the inaction of the authorities is somehow reason to acquit. Maybe he’s a real nice guy now. Maybe he’s ruffling the wrong feathers and they pulled his sordid past out to shut him up. Maybe the parents and pastors and elders who were involved waited until the statute of limitations ran out to report him because they didn’t want to go to jail. While all this may be true, I still don’t see how it undoes what crimes he committed.

Aaron V.

Thank you for your work on this, Todd. It’s heartbreaking/enraging just to read the testimony from the victims and to consider the emotional and spiritual harm done to them. I can’t imagine how much harder it is to document first-hand. Be encouraged, though. Ripping the cover off of rot like this is the only way to bring about substantive change in our churches. Light is the only medicine for darkness.

You and your team are a blessing to me (and many others). Keep up the good work!

-Aaron

Thanks, Aaron, and to all who have posted such supportive comments. As we see, I moderate most comments and am usually able to thank everyone directly. That’s a little challenging now, yet please keep the supportive messages coming. They are all appreciated. Thanks.

Janna L, Chan (blog team member)

Marsha

Sounds to me like Sears doesn’t have a good case and he knows it, so he resorts to time wasting tactics to give the illusion that he is being thorough when in reality he is just wasting time asking stupid questions to keep the witnesses off topics that hurt his non-existent case for innocence.

I really wish this three man committee and other ARBCA pastors who knew what Chantry did and did not report it could all be taken to the woodshed over this.

Thanks, Marsha. I agree with you. There’s an old legal saw that reads as follows:

“If you have the law in your side, argue the law. If you have the facts I
on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither the law nor the facts on your side, call the other guy a scoundrel.”

Also, people who covered up allegations of abuse against Tom Chantry can almost certainly
be sued in civil court. The bar for winning cases in civil court is “a preponderance of evidence.” That is much easier to establish than the “proof beyond a resdinable doubt” standard used in criminal cases.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Susan Cutler

I may be mistaken but I thought that Todd indicated that the statute of limitations for dealing with the three man committee had passed.

Question: Is Tom’s lawyer a public defender appointed by the court?

Sonja

Another one is “if you don’t know the answer to the question, don’t ask the question” Thinking of the victim’s response to Sears about seeing the abuse of his brother through the office door window. There’s a real gotcha moment.

Thanks to you both for your amazing work in reporting.

Obed

Even more of a gotcha moment when the defense strategy involves making a big thing about a picture of the outside of the house and which windows are for which rooms.
It’s a bad gaffe, but the average jury member wont place it in the wider context.

KnowTruth

The three man committee were never told of any sexual abuse. they only investigated physical abuse. They issued a report and a recommendation. the recommendation went to the parents, the church, and the ARBCA AC. Their recommendation was that the families report the abuse to the police immediately, that Tom enter counseling, and that he not be allowed to pastor again. At the time they thought they had fulfilled their responsibility. hindsight may look different, but the times and understanding of mandatory reporters has changed over those years as well.

With respect, this account does not jive with several facts pertaining to this case.

There were two reports. One was “sealed” and deliberately not shown to families. It contains information suggesting that Chantry may have sexually abused children. Parents have said that they would have reported if they’d been shown this secret report. I can only assume that’s why these men chose to hide it from them.

I certainly don’t believe that these men ever thought they were doing their duty. For one thing, they had no business doing an investigation into allegations of child abuse of any kind, as some type of underground religious court. The matter should have been referred to law enforcement immediately.

All the evidence we have indicates that their goal was covering up allegations of physical and sexual abuse against Tom Chantry. A previous post cites a document in which even Chantry’s lawyer argues that these men were and should have known that they were mandatory reporters.

One of these men is a lawyer and another has a law enforcement background. They cannot claim to have been naive about reporting requirements, in my opinion.

With respect, I think you’ve been fed propaganda. Please read the other posts pertaining to this trial to see primary source documents containing facts.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan ( blog team member)

Headless Unicorn Guy

“With respect, this account does not jive with several facts pertaining to this case. ”

With a handle like “KnowTruth”, I would expect nothing less.

I’ve commented on several spiritual abuse blogs for some time, and one thing I have noticed is that when the blog exposes a particular ManaGAWD, they often get flooded by commenters with pious-sounding handles (usually with “Truth” or “Concerned” somewhere in the name) who obscure, deflect, sidetrack the thread, and defend the MoG. Often denouncing the bloggers as “Bitter”, “Apostates”, “Slanderers”, calling their Salvation into question, and/or barrages of Chapter-and-Verse proof texts. (Or sidetracking into trivia like the defense.) And NONE of these handles or IDs have ever appeared on the blog before.

In dirty politics, there’s what’s called a “Truth Squad”, a roving propaganda/spin machine that’s unleashed to attack opposition by any Semantic means necessary. Spit out enough lies faster than the enemy can counter them with truth (especially if the truth isn’t as Juicy), and “I. WIN.”

And the Chantry case has attracted some real piece-of-work defenders. When Wartburg Watch covered the Chantry case a few months ago, one Chantry fanboy even assembled a Scientology-style Dead Agent Pack of poison pen letters and spammed them out to anyone and everyone connected with the blog mistress — her church, her husband’s employer, other “authorities”. Like a crazy stalker.

Rae

Exactly – Todd and Jana – you are spot on. This is about powerful men protecting other powerful men. Period. Those now circling the wagons, saying that the 3 man investigative panel told the parents that they could call the police, is a straw man argument and they know it. THE INVESTIGATORS were obligated to notify the authorities and failed to do so. Their defenders can keep saying, “But they told the parents they could call the police” all they want, but it doesn’t pass muster. Didn’t back then and doesn’t now.

I agree 100%. Even if there was no legal obligation to report, I believe that an ethical one existed given how much evidence this panel had regarding credible allegations of child abuse directed at Tom Chantry.

Also, based on another comment, it sounds like these guys are claiming that they were only required to report sexual abuse. That’s another lie. Mandatory reporters must also report physical abuse. That should be common sense, in my opinion.

Also, the idea that the need to report child abuse was new to naive churches is baloney. In most cases, the churches making this argument have, for decades, kicked people out for having pre-marital sex, being gay, or smoking pot.

“Those activities are clearly beyond the pale, but we just don’t know if adult pastors having sex with children is either a crime or a sin.”

Give us a break. Many of the pastors and members of churches that enable pedophilia don’t care about abused kids and believe they’re above the law.

They’re not.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)