Defense Attorney John Sears filed a motion over the weekend asking the Judge to declare a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct. He based this on Susan Eazer’s “observable non-verbal communication.” Judge Astrowsky denied the motion stating that there was nothing presented in the motion that warrants a mistrial.
In the gallery today for the first time was Tom Chantry’s friend and co-author David Dykstra. The book, “Holding Communion Together,” was published in May 2014, by all reports was very controversial, sold very few copies and is now out of print. Earl Blackburn, one of the ARBCA “insiders” wrote the Foreword for the book and said,
“Christ is still building his church, and, believe it or not, he is using our Reformed Baptist movement in some truly remarkable and amazing ways in this broken world; one eternal soul at a time, one church at a time. It is our earnest prayer that all, especially church leaders in every branch of Christendom, might carefully read, mark, learn, and profit from this book.”
It doesn’t appear that Blackburn’s “earnest prayer” was answered!
David Dykstra is also one of the ARBCA “insiders.” He seems to be a permanent fixture on the Administrative Council.
It would seem Providential that David Dykstra was in the courtroom this morning as he got to hear Judge Astrowsky state that if this were a trial of ARBCA cover-up they would be convicted.
I doubt the Judge’s words will have any impact on this corrupt group of ARBCA leaders. In fact, today another member of their gang sent this out to the dwindling ranks of faithful followers:
In case the words above appear too small, here is the text:
Today’s update is a reminder of what is involved in holding to and standing for the truth. At this time issues such as “fake news” and internet gossip (attack blogs) and plagiarism (stolen information passed off as one’s own) infect our culture. For decades, people checking out at grocery stores have been exposed to lurid magazines with lascivious gossip about all manner of people. How then can a Christian keep himself pure and unspotted from the world in such a corrosive environment? As always, God’s Word directs us to the right and narrow and true way. The Westminster Larger Catechism displays what it means to properly honor and obey the 9th Commandment–“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” It is included for your meditation and practice.
Steve risks being censured by his gang of leaders for quoting from the Westminster Larger Catechism instead of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, but I would bet if he picks up the tab at their next gathering at The Cheese Cake Factory all will be forgiven!
Back to the trial.
Just a note for those of you, who like me, are not familiar with court proceedings. Prior to the jury coming into the courtroom to continue the trial in the morning, the Judge and Council for both parties conduct business, such as arguing and ruling on motions like that mentioned above. This is done so as not to prejudice the jury.
The next item of business concerned new information Prosecuting Attorney Susan Eazer had obtained over the weekend. She had discovered that Tom Chantry had been interviewed by the Arlington Heights, IL Police Department for severely spanking a child, leaving bruises that were still visible two days later. This occurred in 2004 at Christian Liberty Academy, the school where Chantry taught 5th and 6th-grade children.
Of course, John Sears argued against allowing this information into Court at such a late hour, saying that it should have been properly argued in a pre-trial evidentiary hearing. Judge Astrowsky, after hearing arguments from both sides, agreed with Sears and ruled the evidence of Chantry’s ongoing abuse would not be allowed. (Of course, I am condensing 20-30 minutes of legalese into a few sentences!)
Judge Astrowsky made another comment which I agreed with, saying he would never send his kids to that school!
It should be noted that back in 2016 when I first started investigating this story I sent an email to Christian Liberty Academy alerting them to the fact that Tom Chantry had been arrested and charged with physical and sexual assault of Children. I suggested that they send a letter to the parents of every child that had been in a class taught by Chantry. As usual, I received no response!
I have filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Arlington Heights Police Department and as soon as I receive the Police report I will post it.
At 10:08 A.M. court was finally resumed. John Sears continued his direct examination of the defendant, Tom Chantry. It was more of the same from Friday. Tom never did anything he was charged with, and the only thing he ever did, the thing he had to apologize to every member of Miller Valley Baptist Church for, was disciplining a child with light, corrective swats over his clothes without the permission of his mother!
If you believe that I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you!
You may recall Tom testified on Friday that some people at Miller Valley Baptist Church missed Bob Selph so badly that when Tom would start to preach several individuals would start to cry. Today Chantry expanded on this by saying one of the individuals who cried was P.W. Chantry said she never would speak to him. P.W. is the mother of Victims 3 and 4. I am not certain what the strategy of the Defense was here. Perhaps Sears will argue in his closing that P.W. encouraged her children to make up stories about Chantry because of her strong dislike for him.
Chantry was then led along by Sears’ questioning to show how the mother of Victim 1 had a similar dislike for Chantry. He said there was a constant underlying friction to their relationship. I believe Chantry’s words were “the relationship was always strained.” She had invited Tom to conduct a Bible study at her house but then protested about how Tom led the group and, incredibly, she was the one responsible for keeping Tom out of the pulpit in October/November 2000!
At the end of Sears exam, Chantry agreed with his assessment that Chantry had only done what was reasonable and appropriate in each case of “disciplining” children who were in his care. (I believe you will find this wording in the legal statutes of Arizona.)
At 10:37 A.M. Susan Eazer began her cross-examination of Tom Chantry. I was amazed at how sharp Chantry’s memory was when it came to remembering details that portrayed him in a positive light or enhanced his storyline, yet when it came to damaging questions he simply couldn’t remember the details! Chantry couldn’t remember ever having uttered the infamous line to Eric Owens, “I have done something from which I cannot recover.” Likewise, Chantry couldn’t remember saying the line he used to deny abusing one of the victims, “If I did it, I must have been sleeping.”
I give him credit, he is a smart individual and was well prepared and coached. Ms. Eazer really couldn’t crack him. She finished her cross-examination by writing the names of every witness that had testified for the prosecution, one by one on a piece of paper which was projected onto the big screen. As she wrote the name she would briefly describe what they had accused Chantry of doing and ask Chantry if he denied ever having done what she just described. Chantry would deny it. I thought the technique was effective. The list was lengthy as were the charges. Chantry denied it all. I was left with the impression of how could so many individuals have similar stories of abuse inflicted by Chantry, yet they were all untrue and Chantry’s version was the correct version? It just wasn’t reasonable.
Eazer also had a dramatic last question. She said: Mr. Chantry you have said these charges are the worst thing that has ever happened to you, do you think it was the worst thing that ever happened to the victims?
Chantry said, “Would you repeat the question,”
Eazer replied, “I have no further questions” and walked back to her table.
At 2:41 John Sears began his redirect. He asked Chantry a few questions including the reason why Chantry left MVBC. Tom replied that he left because the trust had broken down between the elders and himself and he had been humiliated by the “forgiveness tour.”
The redirect ended at 2:53 with Chantry declaring, “I am absolutely not guilty of any of the charges.”
Susan Eazer then called the father of Victims 2 and 5 back to the stand for rebuttal. His testimony was passionate and powerful. He stated again that the tutoring was Chantry’s idea – he came to them with a written proposal. He did give Chantry permission to discipline his child but never thought it would be needed because his child was so well behaved and had never been a problem, and he would never give him approval to spank his child bare-bottomed or doing anything else he had done to his son. The tutoring sessions came to an end when he found out how frequently Chantry had been spanking his son and that the spankings were bare-bottom spankings.
In the cross-examination, the sense of disgust this father had for Tom Chantry was very evident. He said he was sorry he had not better protected his son but he was betrayed by a pastor they loved and respected. Chantry’s abuse of his son had caused his son to hate him. It was a very sad scene. I thought Sears handled the situation very well and I commend him for it. But my heart really goes out to the victims and their families. Such devastation has occurred because of Chantry’s horrific acts.
At 3:50 John Sears again submitted a Rule 20 motion, asking the Judge to dismiss the case because the State had failed to prove the charges.
At 3:56 the motion was denied.
For the next hour the Judge and both parties worked on the Final Instructions that will be given to the jury on Wednesday.
Wednesday will include the reading of these instructions to the jury, closing arguments and then the case will be given to the jury to decide.