“Ms. Eazer this witness is not going to go out of his way to be helpful to you.”
With that, I begin my coverage of day ten of the Chantry trial.
Pastor Don Lindblad was on the Witness Stand and the State’s Prosecuting Attorney, Susan Eazer resumed her cross-examination of him. What follows are what I consider to be some of the highlights of the session.
Tom Chantry is the person who asked Pastor Lindblad to be his advocate for the ARBCA investigation in December 2000.
Pastor Lindblad remembers Walt Chantry writing a very angry letter to the Miller Valley Baptist Church Elders and that Walt Chantry also expressed some very angry thoughts to the ARBCA three-man investigative panel. (In a discussion concerning allowable evidence, specifically evidence from the “sealed report,” Ms. Eazer stated at the end of the day when the jurors were out of the courtroom that she believes the “sealed report” from the ARBCA investigation in 2000 was sealed and given to only a select few individuals because Walt Chantry “screamed loud enough.”)
When Tom Chantry left Prescott he moved to University Place, WA, a suburb south of Tacoma. He attended Providence Reformed Baptist Church, an ARBCA church pastored by Tom Lyon. Pastor Lindblad testified that Chantry lived in University Place for approximately 18 months. After the first year, he occasionally preached at Lyon’s church.
I find this interesting because Susan Eazer said in the above-referenced discussion that the “sealed report” stated, “He (Thomas Chantry) was disqualified from ministry.” Very few people saw this sealed report, but two people who did see it were Bob Selph and Tom Lyon!
Tom Lyon is apparently a close friend of Tom Chantry. He officiated at Chantry’s wedding and preached at the ordination service of Chantry. Apparently, Pastor Lyon never read the sealed report, or if he did he figured he knew better than the three-man ARBCA investigative panel. That report also described some of the horrible things Chantry did to the children in his care. Defense Attorney John Sears said, “Bob Selph took the sealed report when he left ARBCA because it was too inflammatory for ARBCA staff to see.” Yet Pastor Don Lindblad testified that Tom Chantry preached at Tom Lyon’s church! What say you, Tom Lyon?
Ms. Eazer then turned her attention to an interview she had with Don Lindblad in March 2018. Eazer brought out a piece of evidence, #76. This evidence was the transcript of the interview. On page 72, line 21 of the document Lindblad indicated that Chantry would never discipline any children other than his own and would never be alone with children.
Eazer stated that Chantry taught at a Christian school from 2002-2006. (5th and 6th grade.) She asked Lindblad if there was any reason to believe Chantry was supervised in that school? Eazer had to press Lindblad before he would admit that Chantry was likely not supervised.
Lindblad admitted he was one of the strong supporters for allowing Chantry’s church (Christ Reformed Baptist Church located in Hales Corners, WI) membership in ARBCA. Lindblad wrote an email to Steve Marquedant, chairman of the membership committee, strongly advocating for Chantry’s church to be accepted. Lindblad followed this up with another email urging Chantry’s application to be accepted.
Any church applying for membership in the ARBCA had to have a member church sponsor them. Chantry’s sponsor was Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Rockford, IL. The senior pastor at Grace Reformed Baptist Church is Dale Smith. Assistant pastor is Al Huber. Huber is the father-in-law of Thomas Chantry. Both men have been in attendance at the trial. Friday morning Dale Smith sent the following message to members of Grace Reformed Baptist Church:
You know what causes me angst? That these two pastors could sit through this trial, hear the multiple stories of victims including bare-bottomed beatings, Chantry rubbing their butts and even fondling a victims genitalia on numerous occasions and still defend the man!
Back to the trial. Ms. Eazer asked Don Lindblad if there was a clamor among churches about the ARBCA cover-up. Lindblad responded, “Yes.”
She then asked Lindblad about the occasion he went to Christ Reformed Baptist Church to address their concerns. Ms. Eazer said they (members of CRBC) had never been told prior to Tom’s arrest about the accusations and the ARBCA investigation in the year 2000. Lindblad responded, “Correct.”
Ms. Eazer then said, “You were selective in what you talked about from the 2000 report, you didn’t tell them everything.” Lindblad responded, “That is correct.”
Ms. Eazer asked Lindblad about his statement that he “was going to separate fact from fiction.” She said, “You were telling them your interpretation.” Lindblad said, “Yes.”
Ms. Eazer asked Lindblad why he didn’t share the document with church members. Lindblad responded, “I was told not to distribute the document.”
Below is a comment I received from a CRBC member regarding the occasion of Don Lindblad coming to their church:
Ms. Eazer then asked if talk about the ARBCA cover-up has caused some churches to leave ARBCA. Lindblad responded, “Yes.”
Lindblad said Tom Lyon’s church received the confidential or “sealed report” from the ARBCA 2000 investigation.
Lindblad then corrected his statement from the previous day by stating, “My position and ARBCA’s position is a person is innocent until proven guilty.”
To which I would say a person is presumed innocent, that presumption is as it relates to criminal charges brought by the State. Some in ARBCA have seen the sealed report, I imagine many other have heard what it contains. As I wrote above, that sealed report stated that Tom Chantry was disqualified from ministry! The report also described the physical assaults Tom Chantry carried out on children, said another victim had been identified and stated “There were many other issues that surfaced in our interviews with members of the congregation which the informal council was unable to explore…These issues included strong evidence of some authoritarianism and angry humiliation by (Defendant) of some members of his flock while serving as the Pastor of MVBC…(t)he Elders who assume oversight of (Defendant) should consider the possibility that on some level he punished children for his own pleasure.”
Yet armed with this information the ARBCA official line is “a person is innocent until proven guilty.” They continue to “stand by their man.” For supposedly being men of the Book they seem to be totally ignorant of the application of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. They have evidenced a distressing lack of discernment and in my opinion, should also be disqualified from ministry.
In the Redirect by John Sears, it was made clear that ARBCA officials knew in the Fall of 2015 that charges were going to be brought against Tom Chantry. Don Lindblad said he found this out in a phone call from the Administrative Chairman Douglas VanderMeulen. (I believe MVBC pastor Chris Marley testified that he was being given updates on the status of the case from the Prescott Police Department and he had called VanderMeulen.)
Lindblad further testified that he was asked by the Senior Elder (Bill Halliburton) at Christ Reformed Baptist Church to come to their congregational meeting and discuss the Tom Chantry situation. He had the sealed report from the ARBCA 2000 investigation but he tried to stay away from divulging the documents but said he did talk about them. This would seem to contradict a statement he made shortly after that where he said the “AC put a muzzle on all of us.”
Tom Chantry takes the Witness Stand
At approximately 10:40 A.M. Thomas Chantry raised his right hand and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him, God. Less than a minute later the “man of God,” in my opinion, broke his oath 5 times. After having Chantry introduce himself to the jury, John Sears said “let’s cut right to the chase” and asked the following questions:
Sears – Did you ever molest [Victim 1]?
Chantry – No I did not.
Sears – Did you ever molest [Victim 2]?
Chantry – No I did not.
Sears – Did you ever assault [Victim 3]?
Chantry – No I did not.
Sears – Did you ever assault [Victim 4]?
Chantry – No I did not.
Sears – Did you ever assault [Victim 5]?
Chantry – No I did not.
John Sears then led Chantry through a painfully slow, well-rehearsed rendition of their version of the facts that lasted the remainder of the day. (They will continue when court reconvenes on Tuesday.)
My guess is that Chantry likely attended a witness class such as this one. His coach had the unenviable task of transforming Chantry from what most report as a dour personality into a perky, positive, believable family man. In my opinion, Chantry flopped. Try to imagine a 48-year-old Eddie Haskell from the “Leave it to Beaver” television show and you will have a good idea of how Chantry came across. For example, when Sears asked Chantry if he ever spanked a child bare-bottomed Chantry would use a very dramatic voice and say something like, “No, of course not, I would never do something like that.”
Chantry’s most outrageous acting came when Sears asked him if he would ever tell a child that God would be mad at the child if he ever mentioned being spanked to anyone. Chantry had a dramatic pause and acted like he was a little choked up and then said that was perhaps the false allegation that hurt him the most. He would never tell a child something like that about the God he loved and served.
And so it continued as Chantry denied everything every witness for the prosecution had said.
I wasn’t buying any of it. Admittedly I am biased against Chantry, and I also admit I am no expert in reading body language, but after a while, I quit taking notes and started observing the jurors. From what I could see it seemed obvious that several jurors also weren’t buying what Chantry was selling.
Chantry, in describing how hard it was for him to gain acceptance at MVBC said some people missed the previous pastor, Bob Selph, so badly that when he would start to preach some people would start crying. (That may be the only thing I heard from Chantry that I believe.)
Chantry also said that some people disliked him so much that when he approached them to talk with them, they would just turn their back to him and walk away. (This is another story which completely contradicts what every witness from MVBC said. They said everyone went out of their way to make Chantry feel welcome. Chantry did say that many families invited him for dinner, so I guess he said two things that I believe.)
I don’t remember the question Sears asked Chantry, but Chantry prefaced his answer with, “To be perfectly honest…” I thought why start now!
Another ironic statement by Chantry was “I cannot in any honesty apologize for something I did not do.” I thought honesty has never gotten in your way for anything else, now you suddenly have a conscience?
We will be back at it on Tuesday morning. Hopefully, the case will get to the jury sometime Wednesday.