Day Eight of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | August 9, 2018


The highlight of today’s court session: The State rested their case late in the afternoon. Defense attorney John Sears immediately requested that Judge Astrowsky dismiss all eight counts and acquit Tom Chantry. Sears said that according to Rule 20 the State had failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on all eight criminal counts.

Apparently, this is a common maneuver made by defense attorneys, but since this is the first trial I have ever sat through I was confused by what Sears was attempting to do.

Judge Astrowsky denied the motion on all eight counts but not before there was a lengthy discussion on each count.

In other news of interest John Sears, who seemed irritated by Eric Owens’  comment at the end of last Friday’s testimony when he stated that he didn’t think Tom Chantry was a Christian, couldn’t resist his urge to explore this subject in greater detail during his cross-examination of Owens.  Owens did an admirable job explaining why he holds that opinion.

I actually enjoyed watching the cross-examination of Owens by Sears. I am unsure if Owens was purposely forcing Sears to be specific in his questioning but on several occasions, he would answer “no” when Sears was expecting a “yes” answer.  Sears would do a double take and ask Owens to explain his answer. In one example Owens said, “You said children, it was only one child.” It seemed Owens was giving Sears a dose of his own medicine and Sears wasn’t enjoying it. It reminded me of the scene below from the movie “Phenomenon.”

Pastor Christopher Marley testified that in 2012 he received a phone call from Pastor John Giarrizzo of Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert. Giarrizzo asked Marley to let bygones be bygones and asked him to help facilitate a reconciliation between Tom Chantry and Miller Valley Baptist Church. After consulting with his Elders Marley replied to Giarrizzo that he would be happy to work for the requested reconciliation but Tom Chantry needed to begin the process by coming to Prescott to confess and repent and seek forgiveness from all whom he had harmed.

That never happened. (It should be noted that Rich Howe testified that Giarrizzo advised Chantry in 2000 that he should just leave Miller Valley Baptist Church. In my opinion, Giarrizzo wanted to now smooth things over between Chantry and Miller Vallery Baptist Church because he knew Chantry was going to be attempting to bring his church in Wisconsin into the ARBCA and didn’t want the sordid mess of 1995-2000 brought up.)

It should be noted that both Eric Owens and Pastor Marley testified under oath that Tom Chantry never fulfilled his obligations outlined in the 2000 ARBCA 3 man investigative committee report.  Specifically, recommendation 8 which has words to the effect that Chantry must confess of his wrongdoing against the children he abused, repent and apologize to his victims.  This is the central reason Miller Valley Baptist leaders felt it their moral obligation to oppose Chantry’s efforts to bring his church in Wisconsin into the ARBCA. As noted below, this points out another lie that ARBCA leaders included in their 2017 letter addressing the Tom Chantry affair.

In 2015 Marley saw Tom Chantry at the General Assembly meeting. He learned Chantry was applying for membership in the ARBCA. Marley voiced his objections to this by writing a letter to the Administrative Council. It was Marley’s belief that Tom never complied with the recommendations from the 2000 Investigative committee, specifically recommendation #8.

When Marley learned of Victim 1’s alleged sexual molestation by Tom Chantry he reported this to the ARBCA. ARBCA had this information prior to Chantry’s church becoming members of ARBCA, but inexplicably they still allowed Chantry’s church to become members.

Editor’s note: I was advised that 8 of the 12 men pictured above are no longer in the ARBCA. Arden Hodgins is out of the ministry, Ron Baines died of cancer two years ago, Doug Van Dorn, Hank Rast, David Campbell, Gordon Taylor, Matt Foreman and Steve Woodman all left ARBCA between 2014-2015 -with prejudice.

In the strange category, Dale Smith has been attending the trial every day. He always comes into the courtroom a few minutes late and leaves promptly after the session is over. He sits on the Prosecution side of the gallery and never speaks to anyone.

Why is this strange?  Because Dale Smith is the Senior Pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Al Huber, the father-in-law of Tom Chantry, is the Assistant Pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church. Al Huber has also been at the trial every day. These guys have had no contact during this trial, not a word. Nor does Smith talk to any others in the Chantry clan!


Submit Comment

newest oldest
Notify of

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the great comments. Just an FYI that I am holding a couple comments in moderation a little longer , so that Todd can view them.

I will ask that if anyone has concerns about the identity of people posted in any pictures on this site to please e-mail us from the contact page rather than posting a comment.

Thanks again. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Hi, Is there a way to be notified when a verdict has been reached and when they plan to reconvene? I would like to be present in the court room if possible.


I thought you might be interested in an email that was sent to the congregation at GRBC Rockford. This following an evening where a completely unqualified 21 year old led the service because both pastors are away at a trial hoping against hope that their own sins are not found out (in my opinion). Prayer was raised that God would help guide the trial so that “the enemies of the gospel would not prevail”. I fear that you are more than correct in that this congregation is being misled and is following their leaders blindly. You can see in the note below they are even encouraged to close their eyes to other viewpoints and NEVER has there been the slightest mention or prayer for the alleged victims in this case. Very sad…

Subject: Letter to the Church
Date: Thu, 9 Aug 2018 20:50:19 -0700
From: Dale Smith
To: Mark Skeels

Dear Church Family,

We know that the internet bloggers are in high gear right now, and they are making many accusations against us, other pastors and our Association. If you have been reading their blogs (which we are not encouraging), we know that it must be raising questions and concerns with you. If they have indeed caused you any trouble or angst, please write down any concerns that have been raised in your minds. When we get back from Arizona we will be meeting with all of you very soon to try to answer every question you may have, and we will do so with openness, transparency and honesty. We are so sorry that you have to go through this. We ask that you please bear with us during this difficult time. Despite what is being said about us, we do not want to keep you in the dark, and we will not.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Smith
Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Rockford, IL

Thanks so much for passing on this message. In my view, these men are cowards. This blog is getting 15,000-20,000 hits a day to the posts about Ton Chantry alone.These so-called Godly leaders must be aware of it.

So why don’t they talk with Todd directly if they believe that what he is writing about the Chantry trial is inaccurate?

If they have nothing to hide, then why discourage people from reading a blog that contains excellent primary and secondary sources pertaining to facts about the Chantry trial?

Again, these men are cowards by anyone’s standard, in my opinion. My mother says that they’re not really men despite their chronological age. They are merely little boys who have been caught doing something very bad.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Surreal, at least you got a letter and an offer to answer questions. To this day there has not been one mention of Chantry in the ARBCA church I attended (where T. Chantry is known and also attended.) It seems to be one of those things we did not speak of. I think Chantry must have been flattering and manipulating supporters from the beginning. The best construction that can be made of this is that good men got duped, then got in over their heads and are lying to themselves. It would take an amazing amount of courage and humility to face the truth at this point.
It seems unlikely, but all things are possible with God.


Please note, I have edited this comment to take out content that I believe compromises the privacy of a sexual abuse victim. Janna L. Chan 08/12/2018

Hello Surreal,
What relevance does this letter have? I don’t see anything in this communication to the church that speaks of deceit. If you are so disgruntled, why are you attended church there? Just leave, and stop trying to sow discord.
While I can’t speak regarding Tom, I know the pastors at GRBC well. Al Huber is the most loving, protective father. He would NEVER, under any circumstances, have allowed his daughter to speak to, much less date and marry, a man whom if he knew anything about these allegations.

My heart goes out to the victims, and EVERYONE involved in this case who have been hurt. I just ask everyone here do their part to stop hurting others whom they know NOTHING about

Please note, I have edited this comment to protect the privacy of a victim. Janna L. Chan 08/12/2018
Hi RM,

I’m going to need you to take a few metaphorical steps backward. Plead read the comment policy for this blog. It requires comments to be backed up by intelligent reasoning and credible sources. Your submission fails both guidelines, in my view, but I’m going to let your comment stand because you appear to be new to the blog.

Here’s my response.

If you are so disgruntled, why are you attended church there? Just leave, and stop trying to sow discord.

Perhaps this person is contributing to the discussion here, because he or she cares about the cover-up of child sexual abuse in churches in general. I would never go near an ARBCA church given the disgusting and illegal behavior of several of its pastors and leaders, yet still care about what happens to the children in them. I wish that all adults felt that way.

In the United States of America, people are allowed to say what’s on their minds publicly. You and your pastors/leaders do not have the right to create your own underground theocratic legal system that suppresses free speech or encourages people to cover-up child sexual abuse. Do you understand that? I hope so, because the rest of society does and may level civil or criminal penalties against those who don’t respect the law.

I don’t see anything in this communication to the church that speaks of deceit. If you are so disgruntled,

Are we viewing the same document? The letter I see implies that all bloggers are liars and only ARBCA leaders can be trusted to tell church members the real truth. That does constitute talking about deceit. 😉

While I can’t speak regarding Tom, I know the pastors at GRBC well. Al Huber is the most loving, protective father. He would NEVER, under any circumstances, have allowed his daughter to speak to, much less date and marry, a man whom if he knew anything about these allegations.

You’re about the 25th person to say this on this blog alone. If Mr. Huber really does believe that Tom Chantry is innocent, then why doesn’t he issue a public statement saying so instead of hiding behind people like you? Why is Mr. Huber afraid to speak publicly about the heinous crimes his relative is accused of? What is Mr. Huber afraid of?

Why didn’t Mr. Smith contact the people at this blog, if he had concerns about its content, prior to implying that we’re all liars? This blog focuses almost entirely on advocating against child sexual abuse. If Mr. Smith really cared about that issue, I don’t think he would tell people not to read its content.

My heart goes out to the victims, and EVERYONE involved in this case who have been hurt. I just ask everyone here do their part to stop hurting others whom they know NOTHING about

I’m afraid that you’re the pot calling the kettle black, dear. If you had read any of the content on this blog prior to commenting, you would see that all of its posts are backed up by credible sources and intelligent reasoning. Al Huber and Dale Smith, by contrast, are just telling you to trust them because they’re such superior Christians in their own minds. Your church is being sketchy instead of simply saying, “we had nothing to do with covering up allegations against Tom Chantry.” Why are all these people whom you trust afraid to speak what you believe to be the truth?

Todd has gone to great lengths and personal expense to acquire legal documents proving that ARBCA leaders, several of whom you’ve probably been taught to admire, conspired to lie to parents about what they knew about the allegations of child abuse against Tom Chantry, for many years.

I’m sure that these men would have told you how nice they are and that they would never cover-up child sexual abuse, too. Guess what, they lied. People lie. Even people we admire lie.

I just ask everyone here do their part to stop hurting others whom they know NOTHING about

I would ask you to stop hurting others you know nothing about, yet I don’t care what you do with your life. Unlike ARBCA leaders and pastors, I don’t presume to tell you how to live it. However, if you want to comment again, your statements need to be based on intelligent reasoning or credible sources. Nor more personal insults and blanket statements about how great people in your church are.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


I have mixed emotions when I hear the loyal defenders start in with their ‘But I know this man, he would never do anything wrong . . .’ That is the line I always got from my spouse. ‘How can you make such an accusation? We have known ____ for 12 years. We’ve done this with him, and that with him’ and on and on. We heard, and still hear it from defenders of Bill Hybels.

It is very, very difficult and painful to face the possibility that someone you know and love may have a dark, even wicked side. Every criminal, of the most horrific sort, has neighbors, a mother, grandmother, sometimes a wife who insist he ‘would never do such a thing’. I get it.

People have to come to terms with the fact that for an abuser to get away with terrible behavior, particularly long term, he has to be very, very good at deceiving people. How many abused wives assert that everyone thinks their abusive husband is ‘the nicest guy in the world’? Because that is exactly the image an abuser carefully constructs. He deliberately grooms not only his victims, but friends, acquaintances and family members, to the point that often times, nearly everyone sides with the abuser rather than the accuser, even in the face of incredible evidence.

People need to look this truth in the face: abusers are often the nicest guy in the room. (Chantry appears to be an exception, as his hot temper and personality seems to have revealed itself to many who had no suspicion of serious child abuse.) Yet, I am guessing he was a charismatic speaker, and could be engaging when he so desired. As are, most likely, many of his defenders.

However, talent, position, charisma, generosity, kindness nor any other engaging characteristic ensures honesty or trustworthiness. Sadly, it has been repeatedly proven the great lengths people will go to in order to preserve their position, power and lifestyle.

I understand where people are coming from, as well, and try to be kind if they aren’t just attacking people who legitimately disagree with them. Some of my responses as a moderator reflect a practical reality right now. This blog went from getting 500-1000 hits and 2-3 comments a day to getting 10,000-25,0000 hits and more than 100 comments a day, overnight. In the past, Todd and I could cut people more slack.

Now, we really have to enforce the blog’s guidelines about backing up comments with intelligent reasoning or credible sources. We moderate each comment individually and try to respond to most, if not all, of them, on any given day. Since we both have other jobs and commitments, Thou Art The Man can’t be a place for people who only wish to constantly argue that “so and so” is just too nice to be guilty.

There are other places on the web where that dialogue is welcome and appropriate. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Janna, I wasn’t complaining, btw, or condemning your decisions on what to post or not. I think you guys are doing a heroic job. I was just trying to point to, not defend, some of the complexities that lead people to defend the indefensible. Personally, I have no room for that anymore! It is time for people to wake up and smell the roses. 🙂

Thanks, I knew you weren’t complaining. It just wanted to explain why Todd and I can’t deviate from the blog guidelines as must as we might like to right now. Just a public service announcement, in other words. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


“What relevance does this letter have? I don’t see anything in this communication to the church that speaks of deceit.”

Are you serious… they are literally encouraged NOT to read to other side of the story. How is that not deceit… in this day and age every open minded persons must gather the facts themselves. If your side is right with nothing to hide why would you try and convince them not to look at other views?

“I know the pastors at GRBC well. Al Huber is the most loving, protective father. He would NEVER, under any circumstances, have allowed his daughter to speak to, much less date and marry, a man whom if he knew anything about these allegations. ”

Agreed, he wouldn’t. And he might not know being that he wasn’t a part of the ARBCA council in 2001. However, that has been his defense all along. At this point it might be a pride issue for Al, he doesn’t want to be wrong about this because he can’t be wrong. It would destroy him, he has placed his entire reputation on the fact that these allegations are false and has bankrolled the defense of Tom Chantry. That should show how serious this is to him. But what if he’s wrong… what if he has been deceived. Or… what if he knew about the alleged spankings but not the sexual assault. To me this seems far more plausible as I know Al very well also. Al would have ZERO issue with the spanking of kids. He may not have been privy to the conversation that netted the statement “I’ve done something from which I can’t recover…” but if the issue is the spanking of children when society says you can’t but the Bible says you can. Al Huber would have definitely subscribed to that. If I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt (which I want to) then that’s the correct stand.

“Dale Smith, whose own beloved granddaughter was a victim of sexual abuse (not church related), would never try to cover for a child molester.”

Never knew that, but I’ll take your word for it I guess. I’m currently at a place where I think the “child molester” portion of this might get thrown out and so I can still agree with your statement. It is, however, irrelevant (as you would say) to the post in regards to deceiving the congregation. Did Dale, being a part of the ARBCA 2001 council that sent the 3 man administrative council, not have any idea that Tom Chantry was accused of having spanked children at Miller Valley Baptist church, in an inappropriate way? How is that even possible? Molestation, no he would have certainly reported that (I hope) but spanking? No need for law enforcement there…

And finally…

“If you are so disgruntled, why are you attended church there? Just leave, and stop trying to sow discord.

I’m just going to deal with the latter part of the statement because you don’t know if I attend or did attend this church. Sowing discord… if that is encouraging people to think for themselves and to look at the facts then I guess I’m guilty. We need sheep of the Lamb but we don’t need sheeple. We don’t need blind followers, we need Bereans. And in this case that means looking at the facts, following the case, and doing it for yourself. So the idea that we would encourage people NOT to read the information that is out there is beyond me… (and it smells of deceit in relation to original comment) You can’t automatically assume that Tom is guilty just like you can’t automatically assume that he is completely innocent. To do either is to be naive and/or completely biased. So I return to the idea that if to “sow discord” is to encourage the congregation to think for themselves then I guess I am guilty. I would instead believe that this is a scriptural adominition to people that I know and love

ARBCA Member

A few questions:
1. What are the next days in the trial going to be about? ie what is going to happen/who is speaking?
2. What are some of the things James has said? I would actually like to read what he has said. You could just summarize them, but I think it would be interesting to see what he is saying or how he sees this case.
3. As for Pastor Smith being there have you tried talking to him? It is a bit odd he is there and sounds like he is on his own.

Hi, thanks for your comment. I’ll let Todd answer two of your points. If the James you’re referring to is Tom Chantry’s cousin-in-law, then the answer is no, unfortunately. In the many comments we approved, he has never made any points based on facts and just repeats himself ad nauseum.

We can’t waste any more time with that James. Thanks for understanding.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


I guess my question is if he had followed what he said he would do would that have changed that he commited heinous criminal acts against children? Just because the church may have forgiven him what about the law? I understand why the questions I am having difficulty with the fact as to why would that even matter? Maybe someone can help me understand, i don’t know.

Mr. Jesperson

It sounds like Rule 20 is basically the defense playing the lottery with judges. Sounds like something that almost never would work for the defense, but they just got to role the dice if for nothing else in order to show the defendant that they aren’t just sleepwalking through the whole process. It appears, by calling these witnesses on this day, that the prosecution wanted to make it clear that Tom has not shown any true remorse.

Law Prof

Yes, it’s a common move. It’s made as a matter of course; it’s necessary, I believe in all courts, to preserve the right to appeal a case based on issues that are the subject of the motion. In other words, if you’re contesting whether the prosecution really made out their case sufficiently, had enough evidence to go to a jury on each of the essential elements that must be proven to make out the case, you’re better say something about it at trial, before it gets to the jury, otherwise if you later try to appeal, the appellate court will quite rightly have the attitude of “Well, why didn’t you complain about this to the trial judge back when this was happening? How do you know he or she wouldn’t have agreed with you then? Don’t come crying to us now.” That’s basically what was going on. You make that motion automatically, just what’s done, and by the way, it’s almost always denied, judges don’t generally like to impose their will over the jury’s, usually there’s considered to be enough in the record for something to go to the jury.

Marsha Iddings

That letter referred to makes my skin crawl. They really went out of their way to describe all the supposed qualifications of the three man committee. If you can’t baffle them with your BS, then baffle them with your brilliance. Again, the apples don’t fall far from the tree. In our own case with the issue we had, the deacon told my son that they talked to “upstanding men” in the congregation about the situation and they all agree that our son and us are wrong.

1. Here they are extolling the virtues of the men they spoke with to baffle us with their brilliance.

2. They are attempting to control the narrative and information

3. They are using bully tactics to get us to stand down and shut up…after all, if these brilliant men have this opinion then it must be right!

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)