Day Seven of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | August 8, 2018

Photo credit – Verde Valley News


I entered the courtroom about 8:55 A.M this morning and found Judge Astrowsky, Prosecuting Attorney Susan Eazer, and Defense Attorney John Sears engaged in a discussion concerning the upcoming testimony of C.L.  It was evident Sears was worried her testimony could do serious damage to Tom Chantry. If you want to see what worried Sears you can go here and read page three of the “Motion in Limine Regarding Pastor Lindblad.”

Judge Astrowsky ultimately ruled that C.L. could testify, but he had strict guidelines concerning what she could be questioned about.

The jurors were called in at 9:13 A.M. and the first order of business was to poll them to see if their schedules could be changed to allow for an unscheduled extra day of court on Friday the 10th. All the jurors said they could make it work so the day was added to the schedule. Court next week will now be in session on Wednesday-Friday.

The State called Rich Howe as a witness at 9:17 A.M. Howe attended Miller Valley Baptist Church for 27 or 28 years and was an Elder when Tom Chantry was the pastor at the church.

Howe discussed the July 4, 1995 incident where Tom Chantry punched 12-year-old Victim 5 in the face, knocking him to the ground. Chantry had only been at the church for a short time and was still in “interim” status. Rich Howe testified that he did not witness the actual punch to the face.

Susan Eazer asked Howe if there were concerns or discussions about Chantry’s behavior. Howe said there was, and they had talked to Tom, but at the end of the day, they decided to forgive Tom and move on.

When the father of Victim 2 (who was also an Elder) learned that Chantry had spanked his son bare-bottomed Howe reported there was significant concern. Both he and the father of Victim 2 confronted Chantry. The father of Victim 2 said bare-bottom spanking was not appropriate, but Chantry denied he had done this. Howe said that nobody in the church was told about the discussion he and the father of Victim 2 had with Tom Chantry.

Eric Owens (Shorty) replaced the father of Victim 2 as an Elder after he and his family moved.  Rich Howe and Eric Owens both were informed of Chantry bare-bottom spanking the son of C.L.  Howe and Owens confronted Chantry once again, and then on another occasion, Eric Owens and C.L. talked to Tom about the bare-bottom spanking of her son. Again Tom denied the charges.

At this point, the jury was dismissed. More discussion ensued concerning the same subject discussed the first thing this morning. Sears was striving to eliminate any discussion of the bare-bottom spankings of D.L,  Susan Eazer said these bare-bottom spankings go to the heart of the case. Eazer said that Chantry has been confronted three times about bare-bottom spankings administered to three different children and Chantry adamantly denied them all.

Somewhere in the middle of all this technical discussion about allowable evidence, there was what I considered a lighter moment. Judge Astrowsky told Susan Eazer she needed to stop rolling her eyes when Sears was talking. Eazer said she wasn’t aware she was doing it.

Judge Astrowsky said, “you are doing it, all the time.”

I never noticed this from my vantage point and I can see where it could unduly influence the jury, but to be honest, I completely understand the eye rolling and I bet the jurors do as well.

A few interesting things I learned from the Rich Howe testimony – his daughter is married to Bob Selph’s son, and the ARBCA called Miller Valley Baptist Church and asked if they wanted them to investigate the Chantry mess.

(Later in the day John Sears stated that the ARBCA three-man investigative committee was suggested by Bob Selph and Selph is the one who selected the three men to serve on the committee.)

Rich Howe testified that it was his impression that the ARBCA committee assured the MVBC that Chantry would not be a pastor again. Howe also said the ARBCA did not instruct him not to call the police and he regrets not having done so.

Howe further testified that he holds no grudges nor hatred of Tom Chantry although he hates his actions – what Tom did to the children. He stated that the ARBCA Council attempted to resolve the issue by having Tom repent and the church forgiving him.

Rich Howe then testified about the 2015 meeting regarding Victim 1’s revelation that Tom Chantry sexually molested him when he was 4. Howe believes he first heard about this event from Bob Selph. Victim 1’s mother had called Selph and Selph then called Howe.

Rich Howe and Eric Owen attended the meeting at Victim 1’s home in 2015. The outcome of the meeting was that it was clear a report needed to be made to the police and Victim 1’s family would be the ones to do it.

Howe said Chris Marley Jr. and Sr. had concerns about Chantry’s church in Wisconsin coming into the ARBCA. All the MVBC Elders discussed this. Howe said the conditions laid out in the 2000 ARBCA report for Tom’s restoration were that he would repent and apologize to each family. He said Tom did not ever do this.

In the Cross Examination Howe said Tom was angry and uncomfortable during the 4th of July celebration. He stated that Tom’s attitude was self-assured, prideful and not one to change.

One very good point Sears made was regarding the ordination of Chantry, which occurred in February of 1996. Sears has a certificate of ordination given to Tom Chantry at the church service. The certificate stated that Chantry had demonstrated a “consistency of life and testimony.” This certificate was signed by Howe and Eric Owens. Sears asked Howe how, in light of all the terrible things he alleged Tom had done, he could sign that certificate?

In my opinion, this was a very logical question. Clearly, Chantry should have never been ordained. He should have been removed one month into the job when he punched a 12-year-old in the face. There were plenty of other red flags along the way that were ignored or forgiven. Howe’s response was that they realized Tom wasn’t perfect and had areas he needed to grow in, after all, he was only 24, but Howe believed he could mentor him and Tom would grow.

I am going to summarize the rest of the day by just writing some thoughts I found interesting.

John Giarrizzo, pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert, AZ advised Tom that he needed to leave Miller Valley Baptist Church.

In 2015 the Marley’s (pastors at MVBC) attended the General Assembly to oppose Chantry’s bringing his church in Wisconsin into the ARBCA.

In 2016 Rich Howe left MVBC.

Rich Howe said Walter Chantry, whom he considered a friend, expressed a great deal of anger towards him and Eric Owens over the charges against Tom Chantry.

C.L. testified that Tom Chantry approached her about tutoring her son.

In September or October of 2000, C.L. picked her son up from the parsonage after a tutoring session with Chantry. Her son had been beaten so bad he could hardly walk. From the top of his buttocks to the bottom of his thighs were purple bruises, welts, and blisters. It looked like he had been struck by a 4-inch wide board. She felt sick and did not know what to do. She called Rich Howe. Rich Howe confronted Chantry. Chantry again denied bare-bottom spanking but did admit spanking the boy.

C.L. left the church shortly after the ARBCA investigation concluded. She regrets not having called the Police.

In a move which surprised me, Defense attorney Sears declined to cross examine C.L.

Eric Owens was the final witness for the day.

When Owens went to the parsonage to discuss the beating C.L.’s son received from Chantry, Chantry uttered his prophetic sentence of “I’ve done something from which I can’t recover. I’ve spanked some kids and I may have taken it too far.”

Owens said Tom left the church in November of 2000. He told no one, only leaving a note of resignation in the church office. Owens said he thought Chantry knew he would be facing discipline so he jumped ship. Chantry’s resignation took them all by surprise.

Owens said item 8 of the ARBCA outline of steps Tom needed to take had never been fulfilled. He then stated, totally unprompted, that “I believe Tom is not a Christian.” This ended the day.

After the jurors were dismissed Sears voiced concern to Judge Astrowsky about the last statement Owens had uttered.  While the Judge agreed he also stated that Sears did not object at the time it was said.

112 thoughts on “Day Seven of the Thomas Chantry Trial

  1. Law Prof

    I’ll add one more thing. I know Sue Eazer, the prosecutor. Not a personal friend, but many years ago I saw her in action in the courtroom a fair number of times. When I was a judicial clerk with a criminal court judge in Pima County, I saw her fiery attitude towards those who abuse kids behind closed doors in the judge’s chambers. She’s not afraid of anyone, she’ll tell a judge off to their face if she thinks it’s warranted (I’ve seen that very thing happen up close). You don’t ,mess with Sue, you don’t try to lie on the stand with Sue. Guaranteed she has no fear whatsoever over a well-fed pastor of some small church in the Midwest–or a whole procession of ARBCA suits, sitting up there on the witness stand, trying the little games that scare the daylights out of parishioners. She eats people like that for lunch. If I were an abusive pastor, one who liked to shade the truth and maybe do a little flat out lying, and used to getting away with it with those over whom I had control, she’s the last one I’d want to be cross examined by. I mean the last!

    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      I agree Law Prof. I have been impressed with her but today she was in her prime. So far I had just seen her questioning her witnesses. Today I saw her going after witnesses for the defense and she was great.

      1. Law Prof

        She’s five foot nothing, some people probably underestimate her, but a ball of fire and a fine attorney.

  2. Law Prof

    When a kid shoots a water gun at me, I never fan my hand out to block the spray or run the other way laughing–no, it just makes more sense to clench your fist up into a tight little ball. Stops more water that way. Why of course, everyone knows that.

    And if the kid with the water gun is running at me, it’s common, very common indeed, for my wrist and elbow and arm just to lock up, frozen there, as the kid runs my way, I’m always paralyzed, unable to avoid to crunch of my fist into their face–terrible thing! I thought that was a common malady, frozen-arm-when-approached-by-kid-with-water-gun paralysis. Doesn’t that happen to all of you?

    And the types of kids who shoot water water guns at chubby little pastors like Mr. Chantry, why they all tend to just keep running once they start in a direction, unable to stop even when they see a clinched fist in the path of their faces–something like a train that takes a mile to stop from sheer momentum. Have you ever seen it turn out differently?

    So there you have it, folks, Mr. Altvater is trying trying to educate us all–for the glory of God, of course–about Water Gun Clenched Chubby Pastor Fist Frozen Arm Kid With Plastic Gun Who Can’t Stop from Sheer Locomotive Momentum Syndrome.

    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      I haven’t addressed this, but the Chantry family member spinning his tale in these comments does not even know the facts of the squirt gun incident. First of all, it was the 4th of July and the whole town of Prescott gets caught up in water fights with balloons, squirt guns, etc. Apparently, it’s a cultural thing in that town. Events at the church followed the same pattern, kids running around with squirt guns and water pistols doing what kids do. Several witnesses testified that Tom Chantry was grumpy, gave the impression he didn’t want to be there, etc. Chantry walked down from his porch and said words to the effect of “if anybody squirts me I will smack him. To which the 12-year-old promptly responded by squirting him in the chest. The boy was not moving, he was planted on the sidewalk. Tom Chantry rapidly approached him with a closed fist and punched him on the left side of his face. The boy fell to the ground and Chantry retreated to the parsonage.
      Tom had only been at the church for about three weeks at this point!

      1. incongnito

        If I understand Mr. Chantry’s “theology” I would not be considered a Christian and in my personal experience with faith communities me even being human was well I was not according to some. But that is what it is. The work I have done for 40 years was to work with people with physical and cognitive disabilities. One of the sites I worked at was with extremely violent adult individuals with cognitive and psychological disabilities. Decorum precludes me from articulating what I have been “squirted” with or had smashed in my face, at times on a daily basis. If I ever even raised my voice it could be actionable and I would have it no other way. Even though I have been hit, bit, pushed down flights of stairs, bit, scratched, punched, kicked, knocked out, etc. I never even thought of “hitting” or pushing one of those I was hired to help. Not to say it did not bother me or “upset” me but I figured God put up with me it was the least I could do. Because there were these moments where I would reach one of these fine people and see just how hard they were trying to communicate, develop, and be part of socialization or the individual was so cognitively involved they just did not know what they were doing.

        There were powerful and peaceful interventions that worked very well. My real pain came from how my faith community, at times, when the issue came up that the people I worked/work with could not be “saved” because they could not articulate the “gospel” and “correct doctrine” and would quote the bible where someone with similar “behavior” was totally changed when they were “regenerated” I E the Legion Mark 5:1-20 Luke 8:26-39, Nebuchadnezzar Daniel 4:34 and Matthew 17:21 along with becoming a new creature, overcoming, true followers of Jesus do not continue to sin such as 1 John 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:17 and so on. Like I was often told where the Bible speaks definitively it is infallible and the rule of faith. I can’t tell you the histories of abuse that many of these people also endured I mean very very disturbing horrible abuse at times the abuse was so bad it lead to the cognitive damage of the person when they were a child. The damage is so profound. I can say that some of the Augmentative Communication devices I helped develop did help some of these wonderful folks an outlet to begin to express themselves. The communication systems have gotten so much better when compared to the early 80’s. It was amazing what you can do with a Commodore 64 or a true 80 and the electronic voice. It was a real kick to see people just blossom. I have always thanked God for the opportunity to serve.

        I can’t speak to Mr. Chantry’s guilt or innocents that is for a court of law, it does sound like he is getting a very fair trial and has good representation. Something that always bothered me and I still remember the incidents so clear was when I worked night shift and an individual would have a nightmare or a psychological episode and manifest memories maybe swear or lash out because of a memory or a hallucination I would often pray, no beg God to intervene. Sad to say not once did that really help, other “human” interventions worked wonders, positive behavior mod, medication, counseling and other therapeutic approaches were very powerful But still at night it was trying and the memories were still so clear to those that endured so much.

        Sorry for the length of this post, Thanks to Mr. Wilhelm and the mods for doing a hard job. This is an area that needs to be addressed. I don’t really consider myself a Christian in the Evangelical sense it became so clear to me so long ago that “there was no room left at the Inn” granted that is taken out of context but it really fits my situation. I am grateful to the Lord Jesus for all He has done though I don’t really understand why He does it the way He does. If that makes sense. I am posting under a slightly veiled pseudonym.

        1. JHenry

          Thanks for your post! I believe that due to the repeated revelations of the real, perverse character of many so-called evangelical leaders, many who once called themselves ‘evangelical’ are reevaluating the label. I cast it off some time ago, and encourage you and others to continue in the assurance that knowing God does not require membership in the ‘Church of the day’. Our loving God, who has chosen to tolerate much unthinkable evil by his creation, will, I believe, restore us and all of his creation to what he intended us to be.

          My heart breaks for the suffering that so many innocent ones endure. When my own situation seems overwhelming, or I view the wickedness that seems to endlessly triumph, it is sometimes difficult to believe in the goodness and mercy of a loving God. Then, someone like you comes along, reminding me that God sees and cares about his hurting children. He has not left us alone. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus that The Church has too often failed to be.

        2. Law Prof

          I have a dear Christian friend who has worked almost exclusively with autistic children for over a decade, even got her master’s with an emphasis in that specialty. She could definitely relate to what you describe, she has really taken a beating over the years, but she understands that the kids who do get violent are not hating her, they’re just trying to deal with the overwhelming aspects of their environment. And even if one were going after her personally, doing something awful, she wouldn’t strike back. You just don’t do that. I don’t know about your personal theology, Incognito, whether we’d fit within the same theological paradigm, but I do know that when I see people who tick the theological boxes but treat people with cruelty, that my beliefs compel me to consider them a fraud and probably far, far worse and far more destructive than one who treats others with decency but doesn’t tick the theological boxes.

      2. Elizabeth

        Tom Chantry was only an Interim Pastor at the time of the water gun incident. How on earth was he hired as pastor after hitting a child, PUBLICLY, hard enough to fall down?!! Try as I may, I simply cannot understand how this can happen. My father was a Baptist preacher, and I well remember the lengthy hiring process he had to submit to by the different churches he pastored. Violently hitting a child would have ended his career! Is ARBCA really that powerful that they can get one of their boys into a pulpit in spite of the congregants witnessing such a violent act, and one that he apparently never humbled himself to offer an apology to the victim for? The implied corruption is staggering. It goes beyond my understanding.

        1. MW

          I was a member of GRBC (the Rockford, IL church that planted Chantry’s church in Wisconsin) and knew the pastors quite well. It’s my opinion, and of what I know from speaking to them, that they didn’t know the extent of any of this. Their vetting process for pastors is extensive. They have actually let some potential pastors go after the initial internship due to concerns – this has happened both at their own church and the church in Wisconsin before Chantry was installed.

          If you think about it from another angle – Tom Chantry marrying Al Huber’s (assistant pastor at GRBC) daughter – it makes sense that Al and Dale didn’t know this about Chantry. Would any father let his daughter marry a guy they so much as even suspected of doing these horrible things?

          1. JLC

            Thanks, Elizabeth. I understand where you’re coming from.

            My question is as follows: why don’t the relevant churches and pastors issue a statement saying they knew nothing about the allegations of child physical and sexual abuse made against Tom Chantry?

            Why doesn’t Mr. Huber do so?

            Right now, their silence is speaking volumes, and people can probably be forgiven for reaching their own conclusions about matters.

            Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

          2. Troy Vander Waal


            I was a member at CRBC where Tom Chantry was our pastor. I agree that Dale and Al did not know the extent of all of this. Still, they were on the Admin council so it is obvious to me they did not do their due diligence when bringing Tom on. They easily could have asked to see the reports.

            BTW, did you see the email sent from Dale to the Rockford congregation that was leaked today?

          3. Elizabeth

            Thanks for your opinion, MW, but not sure I agree with you. People talk. It’s that simple. If even a couple of regular congregants knew of the punching episode, that would have spread like wildfire through the church. I just cannot believe it wasn’t spoken of/”gossiped” about. After all, to ‘normal’ people, hitting a child hard enough to knock him to the ground is big news. Nah, I just don’t go for it, that they didn’t know. From my life experience, that bit of news would have filtered through the church almost immediately. That punch wasn’t done in the dark. It was a public affair and for that reason alone would have been hard to control the narrative. Most especially since it was done by the guy seeking the pulpit.

      3. Law Prof

        “…the whole town of Prescott gets caught up in water fights with balloons, squirt guns, etc. Apparently, it’s a cultural thing in that town. ”

        Having spent years in Arizona, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable cultural thing considering what it feels like there in July!

  3. JHenry

    Mr. Altvater, Perhaps you are unaware of how God, throughout history, has used one wicked ruler to bring down another? In all honestly, it would not change things one whit if Chantry’s evil deeds were exposed by someone for revenge, or out of spite, jealousy or any other wicked motive.

    You surely do not mean to suggest that the alleged person or persons seeking revenge orchestrated or made up the charges and evidence of documented abuse being put before the jury this very moment? Even if it was revenge that led to the horrific actions finally reaching the light of day, the horrific actions remain real and worthy of condemnation. Surely you see the absurdity of any attempt to excuse Chantry’s actions based on the motivations of those who, all too late, decided to take previously hidden accusations more seriously?

    God indeed works all things together for good, and I do not interpret that in the obscene manner that Reformed folk do, as if God himself inspires or ordains the abuse of children or the other evil that evil men choose to do against God’s revealed and spoken will. What it does mean is that God will use the wicked to bring down the wicked. Their jealousies, rivalries, hatred and lust for power and wealth will cause them to turn on, expose and throw one another under the bus. But that does not mean the evil they expose was less evil; or less worthy of being exposed, denounced and punished.

    The problem with Reformed Theology, IMO, is that it utterly distorts the heart and ways of God. It seeks to place the blame for evil at God’s feet, all the while clamoring about ‘giving him the Glory’. Well, God doesn’t need anyone’s help getting glory. Nor will any paltry human succeed in stealing any from him. Not in the long run, that is.

    So, yes, evil motives may have been involved in Chantry’s comeuppance. I know little about the ongoing rivalries, and don’t really care. They only provide more evidence that these men who preen before others as men of Gawd are more often seeking their own interests.

    May God expose them all, one by one, until he naive, deceived masses see Him truly and recognize at last who the ‘wicked’ truly are.

  4. Paul Gordon

    James you are not an honest man. I am not surprised you have an affinity with other dishonest folk. I have nothing more to say to or about you.

    1. JLC

      I agree with Lydia. All the comments have been great, yet this one sums it all up.


      Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

  5. Law Prof

    James – Why don’t you speak in English? What the heck do you mean about “Tom’s book and the difficulties within the RBC” revealing themselves in this blog? And what in the world does that have to do with a dark connection between church factions and re-awakening of this case? And how did Paul reveal this to you? You are starting to sound absolutely unhinged. And if you “understand Dee’s anger”, then why do you act this way towards her? What do you mean? Are you even capable of rational thought? You have me wondering.

  6. JLC

    James, your comments are not falling within the blog guidelines anymore. You need to start answering the questions people ask you instead of only attacking others. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

  7. Barbara Roberts

    James Altvatar, while your comment meets the blog guidelines, it also, in my opinion, reads like a typical script from abuser-defenders.

    I know the script because I’ve seen it so many times. It goes like this:

    Accuse the whistleblowers (who in this case are Todd Willhelm, his blog team, and most of the commenters here) of the ‘sins’ of gossip, judgmentalism, stirring up strife, vengefulness, bitterness, having planks in their eyes, and failing to bring glory to God.

    All those accusations are false. What a blog like this is doing is exposing and shining the spotlight on evil so that those who have been deceived and oppressed by evil can wake up and become more discerning.

    Your attempt to dump guilt on me does not work. I see right through it. Rant as much as you like, but it will make no difference.

    But rather than ranting, why not humble yourself and listen to those who have acquired some wisdom in dealing with evil.

    1. JLC

      Thanks, the most recent comments from this gentleman arguably do not meet the blog guidelines. Todd and I don’t want to censor comments that defend Tom Chantry.

      However, people need to address facts and answer at least a few of the questions they are asked.

      So I’m holding off on approving any more of James’ comments for a while.

      Thanks. Janna L. Chan.


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