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.

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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!

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.


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.

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.

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.

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)

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.


Does Chantry have children? Are they safe?


JLC I have no issues except to say that you and I disagree on some things and we have a mutual understanding. You are doing a good job trying to be fair.
Rather than go back and forth I prefer that support for this blog and it’s rul are better than asserting my opinion after I have given one. I want to spend time more in discussion over relevant issues stemming from Todd’s reports and be supportive even towards the parents. Maybe I need to after thinking about this put myself in their shoes right now and show more empathy and grace in my assertions.
Most important I want to encourage these young men to stay the course and let them know we are with them.
I appreciate your feedback and definitely holding your position even if someone like me may not always agree. So as far as I’m concerned I think you are serving the blog well and time will tell how our opinions are viewed.

James Altvater

Ms. Parsons,

I understand your anger. This, however, is not a social site. I’m not going to lower it to that type of bickering insulting standard by responding to insults ok. No offense. I understand if you feel one of my comments is offending. I’m sorry for that. I may very well be wrong in certain circumstances. However, I do not know you and you don’t know me personally at all, therefore the insults don’t carry any hurtful weight to me. I hope they don’t make you feel better, it would be sad if that were the case.

Best regards.

James Altvater

Hi Folks, just an FYI that I have family in town and Todd is in court today covering the trial. We read and approve all comments individually, which can be time-consuming. If you don’t see your comment after 3 or 4 hours, feel free to send me an e-mail.

Also, unless a comment is vile, we’ll let you know, by e-mail, why we can’t approve it. Please don’t assume that if you don’t immediately see your comment, that’s because we’ve censored it or don’t like you. 😉

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Hi Jana,

I respect the fact that you may not agree with me. That is ok😊 I am not saying all together your censoring everything. Again it’s coming from personal experience and of course someone with very strong opinions. If you are not posting my previous comment there are no hard feelings coming from me. I don’t agree with your position but we can agree to disagree and still respect each other.

Marsha Iddings

Wow. Really? We have seen witness testimony to the horrific things Chantry did and all his cousin in law can do is make a pitiful excuse for the punch in the face?

An excuse is just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. His cousin doesn’t even have the skin of a reason. It’s a naked lie!

I do agree with him that there is something
Very dark about this case. It is dark and has pervaded almost if not all ARBCA churches. I look at what happened to our family in an ARBCA church and I read similar things experienced by others in ARBCA churches and I see a dark and sinister pattern of deception and justification of deception emerging. I see leaderships that are increasingly unaccountable to anyone and I see spiritual abuse and in some churches psychological and physical abuse taking place. I see congregations fearful to ask questions or report abuse and when they do they are silenced. These churches are not led by shepherds. They are led by wolves! What else can you call this organization but a cult masquerading as a Christian association of churches?


JLC let Mr. Avatar or whatever his name is post he just keeps making the case for the boys with his ridiculous statements! When you don’t censor comments the other side makes the case for the victims 100% and literally make themselves look like fools, the public is paying attention. We are not stupid we can see and read what is coming out of court and what fools like him open their mouths they insert FOOT!

James Altvater

If you will read my first posting, I think you will see that I have agreed with all of you regarding the just and rightful punishment due Tom, If in the eyes of God, he is guilty of these grievous sins. For certain, family or not, the accusations made upon him are terrible, and deserve punishment if true. However, my concern about this blog are not only the children, Tom and the legal procedure now in process. It is the moral implications of how most of the respondents have used it as a form of gossip. Clearly accusations have been made of Tom, and his father and their church and elders. None of the accusations have yet been proven legally and many of the concerns deserve serious productive loving discussion to unite the church and not divide. So, I have sincere questions, guilty or not, what edifying purpose does this blog have for God’s church in general? How does this blog glorify God? We know, hopefully all know, that we are all sinners who deserve God’s wrath. Which one of you is confident to stand before God and say “I had no heart of revenge within me when commenting on this blog about this issue connected to your church.”? To exemplify; what purpose would a person have to “Immortalize” my statement on a social site? How many within this blog are satisfied and gloating to see it done? It seems to me that we all have planks in our eyes at times. This, simply of course, is why God sent His son.


James Altvater

Jay Webler

Although it is normal to wonder how something like this could happen. (I.E. Elders, parents, etc. let this stuff go on and seemingly did little about it). I am at times sensing a thread of self-righteousness. If something like t his happened to me and my child I would have done something about it. As I get older I have found many regrets because I did not act consistent with my convictions at all times. I have also learned to temper my outrage at another’s sin because of the recognition of my own.

I sent the following to one who has proven himself over 50 years of ministry because I felt a need to vent because of all of this: “I’m reminded of something I read once; I think it was in Pilgrims Progress. “I know I am a Christian because I hate sins in others.” (We may know that we our Christians when we hate sin in our own hearts). Although the anger is understood, it would be well for all to remember Rom 8:13 “for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Also, “Psa 37:1 A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, Neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness. Psa 37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. Psa 37:3 Trust in Jehovah, and do good;”
I’m also reminded of Joseph, who was surely abused by his brothers. Despite all that was done to him, he saw past the evil that his brothers did and looked at the good that God intended. I sense, (and I may be wrong), that righteous indignation can very easily turn into vengeance because of the remaining sin in our own hearts.”

Another verse has come to mind as I am writing this: “Pro 24:17-18 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, And let not thy heart be glad when he is overthrown; Lest Jehovah see it, and it displease him, And he turn away his wrath from him.”

I have been around Reformed Baptist for almost 40 years. I have never been a member of an ARBCA Church nor would I ever become one. I saw what many of these men were made of when “Shepherding God’s Flock” first came out in the late 80’s. I saw the lies and halve truths in the recounted anecdotal stories and knew who was actually putting them forth. Just when I had some hope that things would turn around, Chantry and Dykstra came out with “Holding Communion Together”, which was Shepherding God’s flock on steroids. What amazes me is these men are the ones who put forth ARBCA as the thing needed to protect other reformed Baptists. They failed to understand one fundamental truth: God will not share His Glory with any man. God has given us teachers for the purpose of teaching so that we may grow. But anyone who begins to think they are God’s gift to the church they need to check their footing before they set themselves up for a fall.

To all who are understandably upset by all the Mr. Chantry and ARBCA has done, I implore you not to let it take you over to the the land of bitterness and revenge. God will judge in His time and His judgement will be far more accurate than mans.

Ann Carpenter

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, evil NOW has a face and that face is Tom Chantry . Why would anyone believe this guy , allow him to be the pastor, allow him to be ordained and defend him. Hitting a little guy in the face , spanking a child till the butt is bruised, red, and the child can’t walk ! Come on James , maybe the department of social services in your state should be checking out your home . Is it nurture or nature that caused Tom Chantry to be an evil man . You don’t have to read the tea leaves to find out what is happening here. Tom Chantry put himself into these situations. Can’t make these things up . I’m glad to see this blog post is spot lighting ridiculous, shameful, sinful abuse of authority of a mere man who stands in a pulpit who hurts the least among us .

Dee Parsons

Hey Todd and Jana
I have immortalized James Altvater’s comment that his cousin did not punch the kid. Instead “the kid ran into his hands” I am tweeting this out as well. This is one for the books!


This post has made me cringe and so furious not just at Chantry but everyone involved who DID NOTHING!!!!! Even the mother C.L. I don’t care who this man is but if I had ever picked my child up with even a bruise much less purple bruises down to his legs I would have choked the life out of Chantry and if not that then certainly would have had the police arrest him before I took one most step with my child off that property. As a mother how do you justify this? Who in their right mind and I don’t care how much brainwashing, or how enthralled she was with the church or this piece of crap, Chantry is from the pit of hell as far as i’m concerned. Forgiveness??? are you kidding me? Why would that even be at the forefront of their minds when hearing about what he is doing? Forgiveness comes when acknowledgement, time and change has occurred! How stupid do you have to be to ignore not one not two but three incidents and then ordain this fool? As far as i’m concerned this is not just abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and physical abuse, but now child endangerment, reckless endangerment, Kidnapping (he confined the boys in his office to punish), and anything else I can think of like Torture!!!!! Everyone involved in Chantry’s abuse are responsible these are grown men and seriously if they can’t even protect the children why in the world should they be trusted to operate a church much less a business? Even the ones who walked away and said nothing “Shame on all of you”!! This is why we spoke out not because it was easy but because someone needed to say something in my sons case. And since many members walked away in silence many of them are responsible for what has happened to people after they left including my son. So let me get back on the subject when you know of abuse of any sort in a church and choose to say nothing you are encouraging abuse to continue to the next person plain and simple. I am so disturbed by this testimony.

Greg Wolak

Since he has not yet been judged by a jury of his peers I must, as a Christian, refrain from pronouncing judgment on him at this time. That will happen soon enough and we must believe that God’s will be done in this sad case.

However, I will admit that I have had the displeasure of knowing Tom Chantry. He was truly a very good expositor of Scripture and that, I believe, fooled many people, myself included into believing that he was a godly man. God does write straight with crooked lines I guess.

Striving to be as objective as humanly possible and writing without malicious intent and in Christian charity I must say that Tom always seemed that he had something to hide. He was very guarded and stand-offish people. He did not let people in but maintained a distance from most. I actually felt sorry for him at times since he seemed like a very lonely and insulated man – but of his own doing. He rejected the godly advice of those who loved him as a brother. I found that arrogant and utterly sad but that is the attitude of most people these sorry days. Their truth is not YOUR truth.

It has only been rather recent that I came to the firm conviction that Tom was a misfit in ministry or unfit for ministry based upon his lack of interaction with the flock he was charged with loving and shepherding. There were warning signs (as safeguards) along the way and many are to blame for allowing him into the ministry – Tom’s family of origin, IRBS, Westminster, ARBCA, the parents at MVBC, the elders at MVBC and a few others.

This all could have been avoided had the authorities in charge at the time reported the suspected abuse to the police as required by law. The parents really dropped the ball in this regard in their naivete and unwillingness to allow things to become too uncomfortable and messy. If there ever was a time for righteous anger to be expressed – that was the time.

As has been shown by the legal evidence so far presented (not my opinion) ARBCA appeared to run interference for him for a long time. I believe that this was done to downplay the scandal that would ensue with the allegations and embarrass and humiliate his father, Walter Chantry. So what do we get from all of this? What lessons can be learned?

The lesson to be learned is that we must EMBRACE the truth – our Lord Jesus Himself – and not just profess the Truth. By embracing Jesus means that we must be willing to do difficult things as the cost of discipleship if we are to truly love and honor Him. He may have been professed in this case but He certainly was not embraced.