“If this were a trial of ARBCA, they’d be convicted.”
-Judge Astrowsky, Trial of Thomas J. Chantry
Source: The Verde Independent
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out ARBCA may be facing legal action in the near future and it appears even the brain trust of ARBCA, known as the Administrative Council, have figured it out.
What happened between the publication of their 2017 report and the Chantry verdict?
What has happened is that the Administrative Council of ARBCA has been exposed as men who misrepresent material facts and are evasive and purposefully incomplete in their dealings as it relates to Tom Chantry’s actions at Miller Valley Baptist Church from 1995-2000. They are beginning to feel the ire of the common folk and they are getting nervous, fearful that their little fiefdom is about to come crashing down. So what we now see in their letter distributed today is a classic “CYA” maneuver. Unfortunately, you boys are about 18 years too late.
The AC reports: “The charges stemmed from the period of time [Thomas Chantry] was the pastor at Miller Valley Baptist Church” and cleverly goes on to point out that “No police report concerning Thomas Chanty was filed during this time.” (suggesting what? that it wasn’t that serious? That they couldn’t have known? That it somehow lessens their culpability?) What the AC fails to mention however, is that they sent a three man “informal council” (all of whom were ranking members of ARBCA) to “investigate” the allegations of abuse, and that three man council issued two separate reports, one of which was sealed from the eyes of the parents and the elders of Miller Valley Baptist Church (ask yourselves this, why should anything have been kept from the parents of the children who were abused???), but yet this report was freely provided to Thomas Chantry, Tom Lyons, Walt Chantry, and most recently to Don Lindblad so that he could provide it to Chantry’s attorney in order to “help” him with Tom’s defense.
What the AC further fails to mention is that in that sealed report the council squarely found that Thomas Chantry had engaged in “inappropriate physical discipline of four separate children” and in fact that he admitted to same, and that they “firmly believed that Thomas Chantry used physical punishment as a regular part of the tutoring process of each of the children”. The report goes on to state that this “raised serious concerns with the informal council” and that there was “strong evidence of some authoritarianism and angry humiliation by Thomas Chantry of some members of his flock.” And sadly, what the AC doesn’t want its member churches to know is that in that sealed report the informal counsel from ARBCA stated: “The informal council members consider this pattern of behavior [by Thomas Chantry] to be very serious. Taken in its entirety, the question must be raised did Thomas Chantry use this method of punishment for his own pleasure” and went on to warn the elders who assumed oversight of Thomas Chantry of that very serious concern.
Most shockingly, the AC doesn’t mention in their letter to member churches, that despite all of these serious findings of this informal council, made up of these so-called Godly Men who were sent down from ARBCA, none of those men reported the matter to police, as they were clearly obligated to do under the mandatory reporting laws. Finally, the AC neglected to mention that despite these “strong concerns” of the three man council, less than a year and a half later, Thomas Chantry was teaching 5th and 6th grade children at the Christian Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where within two years he was again the subject of a police investigation for inappropriately spanking a 5 year old child (who was not even his student) in such a manner as to leave marks that were still present two days later.
While it is not surprising that ARBCA is now trying to minimize what Thomas Chantry did back in 1995 to 2000 while he was the pastor at Miller Valley Baptist Church, it is quite frankly inexcusable that they are hiding facts they know to be true from its member churches. Even more appalling, Walt Chantry, Tom Lyons, Don Lindblad and other ranking members of ARBCA have for the past two decades, paved the road for Thomas Chantry to be in a number of positions (both as a pastor and a teacher) where he has had unfettered access to hundreds of vulnerable children. As a parent, wouldn’t you want to know such things before entrusting your child’s care to a man such as Thomas Chantry? As a member church, should you not expect more truthful reporting from the Association that you look to for guidance and dispute resolution? Perhaps everyone should ask ARBCA why for the past 18 years they have hidden the true facts about Thomas Chantry and why they continue to do so today.
Here are a few powerful comments from individuals who have had enough of ARBCA’s cover-up:
I’m going to weigh in and shed some light on some things I know.
First, my husband and I were members at MVBC when all this went down. We had a young son there from 1999-2002. Over our son’s life, we have asked vaguely, not to give any false memories ourselves in case, heaven forbid, something like this happened to him. Thank the Lord the answer was always an innocent, “No.” He is now 22.
Second, we had NO idea what was going on until Tom fled in the middle of the night. More on who hid him out in a moment. But Tom was brought around to all the members to do the “forgiveness tour” as he called it, but all he asked forgiveness for from us was for his very bad attitude and temper. And boy did he have one!! Yes, Tom could preach your socks off. We learned a great deal under his teaching, but he was a horrible, mean, ill-tempered human being, and that’s with us not knowing who he really was – a predator!!
Third, we were brought in and were part of meetings with the ARBCA investigative council of 3 and remember them giving an update to a handful of us as they had broken us into small groups to disseminate information. I don’t remember what the question was, but I remember answering very passionately that “Tom is a liar!” I remember all 3 of those men were so shocked that a woman at the young age of 29 would very quickly make that type of judgment call about Tom Chantry. Turns out I was right all along.
Fourth, we knew all but one of the victims. We loved them, we taught them in Sunday School, our young son played with them, 2 of them are our family members, and we had NO IDEA this was going on. And now I feel horrible that we didn’t know and wonder what I could have done if I would have known. I feel so terrible for all of them. I pray that the God of peace will grant them perfect peace. I also am a victim of childhood physical abuse. I never did anything about it, and in my 40’s have had to wrestle down memories and thank the Lord, He has delivered me from my fears and nightmares. But I am so proud of these young adults for being brave and courageous and having the guts to face their offender and tell the truth even though it was painful and costly to their reputations, and they will never be able to put those private things back now that they have been made public. I have been praying for you during the trial and will continue as you have to consider whether you are good to go again. I hope you do!! I know that there will be justice. Lord willing, it will be on this side of heaven, but either way, there will BE JUSTICE. God is THE JUST JUDGE.
Don’t be quick to blame the parents. If you had a 10-year-old who this happened to and you found out all the details after the perpetrator had fled, it would be hard to put your young child through the experience of an investigation and a trial at that young age. They were so young, they had no point of sexual reference to know how to explain what happened. I don’t think most of them said much to the 3 person ARBCA council. How would you feel if you were a victim of this, only 10 years old, and 3 strange men come and ask you questions about what went on? I know I would have been intimidated. I know those who knew should have reported it, but even I didn’t know about the mandatory reporting law until we were at a non-ARBCA church that made every member take an 8 hour course on Arizona mandatory reporting laws and signs of abuse and what the policies of the church were. I’m so glad they do that!!
Lastly, we moved from Prescott to the Phoenix area in 2002 and were members for 1 year at Grace Covenant Church, an ARBCA church, where John Giarrizzo was and still is the pastor. One Sunday, we were invited to lunch after church at his house and the whole Tom Chantry/MVBC thing came up. He then, very arrogantly expressed that when Tom fled in the middle of the night, Tom came and hid out at John Giarrizzo’s house for 3 weeks. We sat there almost speechless. Again, at the young age of 31, I sat there and with horror asked, “Why did you do that? If Tom was innocent, why would he run?” And he expressed somewhat irritatedly that MVBC was a bunch of hoodlums out to get a good man, and he was going to do anything he could to prevent that. That is where the cover-up began!!
It wasn’t long after that lunch, that we were questioned by our elders to see if we needed to be church disciplined because we chose to keep our son in a Christian school that they supported at the beginning of the school year, but by October, when our son was in Kindergarten, they decided to have an all-out war with the elders of the church in charge of the Christian school. All Grace Covenant members were strongly advised to leave and go form a new school by our elders. We chose to stay at the school we were at. It was our parental right to choose the education best for our son, and he was thriving. Because we did that, we were seen as rebellious. So after having WAY TOO MUCH elder overreach into areas of Christian liberty, we were done with ARBCA churches. We were done being mind-controlled. We were done with the tyrannical rule. And we wrote a letter to resign our membership, and that’s when the elders showed up at our home to go over whether we were to be church disciplined and while they grilled us for information and names, we remained quiet and strong. They eventually relented, let us go, and left our house with me sobbing. Remember, I was already a victim of physical abuse. I don’t do well with men that have those horrible character traits of trying to strong-arm you.
In closing, I would like to say that all you MVBC peeps that have been quietly watching and reading this blog because I know we all are, I love you. We may have had a predator for a pastor that none of us really knew about, but we loved each other. To all the parents, my heart goes out to you. I love you and will be praying for you. The Lord knows your heart. For all you brave young people who did such an admirable job, know that we love you and have been here praying for you and cheering you on for strength and courage. For all of you who have fled the bonds of ARBCA churches, bravo!! Get out of there while you can! Those of you who are questioning if your ARBCA church is safe, read the article on Tim Challies blog, “Protecting Children From Abuse: An Interview.” It was posted last week. Also a great read was on “theblazingcenter.com – 6 Warning Signs of a Bad Pastor and Spiritual Abuse.” It was published on Aug. 1st. If you have any of that going on in your church, run!! Don’t put your trust in a pastor. Put your trust in Christ!! You can find a good reformed church that doesn’t involve elder overreach and tyrannical rule! We have.
And lastly, thank you Todd and Janna, for keeping us updated, and thank you to those who commented without being aggressive and argumentative to offer more insight so that we all had a safe place to come and get updates when we couldn’t be in the courtroom ourselves. I have followed the Twitter feed, this blog and ARBCA.org on Facebook and that has been very helpful to keep me and my husband updated with what was happening. We felt like we had skin in this game. I had really hoped and prayed that Tom would have been found guilty on all counts because I think we all know he IS…
Thank you, Susan Eazer. You have been dogging it on this case for years now. Thank you for fighting the good fight!!
All Died in the Wool ARBCA Leaders,
I find your blind loyalty to Thomas Chantry incredibly foolish and wicked. You care about your own desires more than God’s. I was a member of Miller Valley Baptist Church at the time of most of the abuse/molestation and you were not even present during the abuse but yet you have believed in a “Man” blindly and you weren’t even there at the time. I was a personal witness to Thomas Chantry’s behavior (Selfishness & Abusive Speech), and you were what….a thousand plus miles away at a minimum, except for John Giarrizzo(100 miles) and yet you blindly accept Tom’s word. Wow, you also believe Tom is a great preacher; I did too. I used to listen to his sermons on the road…..then I became a member of MVBC and found out who he really was when he wasn’t behind the pulpit.
Demons have more knowledge of scripture than a single man will ever possess but all of you would rather put children at risk in at least 3 different states than be the whistleblower. Whistleblowers usually are the ones who get crucified by the empire that is threatened by the truth coming out. The truth is called slander and gossip by the empire because it will expose the wicked leaders. You, ARBCA, chose to cover up Tom’s wickedness to save the empire for your own glory.
John Giarrizzo told me directly, in person, that he took Tom Chantry in when he fled MVBC in the dead of night….like a coward(Exposed). The innocent do not run; the guilty do. John Giarizzo, ARBCA pastor, ARBCA Council Member, aided and abetted a criminal in his home so Tom could flee his crimes against children.
I was there…I sat in one of the meetings with the investigative team to protect one of the victims during the secret ARBCA investigation(Not all of the truth came out that night). I was a representative for the victim. I have first-hand knowledge of the crimes Tom committed against these children. I knew who some of children were before the abuse and who they have become after the abuse. Tom’s abuse destroyed their lives, my grief for these children is an abyss because I have the knowledge.
ARBCA thinks they have got it all figured out…but they have no clue. I taught the same children as Tom; sweet children, innocent of the ways of a pedophile before the abuse….but you refuse to believe the truth and have exchanged it for your own narrative. Why, because just like so many before you, protect the empire, protect your legacy, protect ARBCA, protect Walter Chantry, protect the church, protect Tom but not the children.
What the HELL is wrong with you guys. You are not men. You are cowards. You are no better than the Roman Catholic Church who protected the priests rather than the children. You can’t hide from this one boys. The truth is coming and it with find you. The hidden crimes of Thomas Chantry and the ARBCA cover-up is festering like a boil and the putrefaction will rise to the surface and you will not be able to keep control no matter what you do. I have either been a member or attended at least 4 ARBCA Churches and I have seen the ELDER OVERREACH destroy the unity of the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. The control the elders have in the typical ARBCA church is evil…it is not like a gentle, kind shepherd. I do not have any power over you but the Almighty Sovereign God of the Universe does and He will defend his people…I have no doubt. Repent ARBCA Leaders, you have aided and Abetted an abuser, violator, and molester of children. If you can’t see that now, you are as blind as the Pharisees.