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!


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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.

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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

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.


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)