Why Does Christian Liberty Academy Support Convicted Felon Thomas Chantry?

By | October 27, 2018

Why would Christian Liberty Academy want to insert themselves into the Thomas Chantry child abuse case?

Why would CLA Superintendent Philip Bennett claim Chantry was a “model teacher” as recently as September 25, 2018, in an interview with the Arlington Heights Daily Herald? Bennett knew at this date that Chantry had been convicted of two felony counts of assault on children; Bennett had taken part in a Police investigation of Thomas Chantry in 2004 for the extreme paddling of a five-year-old boy while Chantry was a teacher at CLA; Bennett also undoubtedly knows that there were at least four or five additional occasions (according to my source) of Chantry using excessive force as he beat students with a paddle.

Why would CLA Superintendent Philip Bennett not be willing to inform all parents who had children enrolled at CLA while Chantry was teaching (from 2002-2006) to ask their children if they had ever been abused by Chantry? This would seem to be the right, decent and Christian response to take when one learned that the Arizona prosecutor had described the incidents Chantry committed while a pastor in Prescott, AZ as “unspeakable acts of sadistic physical abuse.”

Why would people from CLA encourage individuals to write positive character reference letters to Judge Astrowsky on behalf of Thomas Chantry in hopes of obtaining a more lenient sentence? According to Illinois State Representative, Tom Morrison “people he knows from Christian Liberty encouraged him to send a letter on Chantry’s behalf.”

What would cause Philip Bennett to revoke CLA’s longstanding and what they continue to believe to be Biblical, practice of administering corporal punishment to wayward students?

These are all questions that deserve answers, questions that parents who are plunking down $10,000  per year tuition for their child to attend CLA should be asking. In my opinion Law Enforcement also needs to investigate this matter.

Below is a Police report of an incident of severe paddling administered to a five-year-old child by Thomas Chantry. I wonder, as the parents of the child did, why Chantry, a 5th-grade teacher, was beating a child in Kindergarten.

I witnessed Thomas Chantry swear an oath on the Bible, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him God and then get up on the witness stand and tell lie after lie. When interviewed by the Police in this incident Chantry was under no such oath, so I would say it’s highly probable he did not speak truthfully to the Police.

Philip Bennett, superintendent of the private pre-K-12 school, said Tuesday school officials were aware of spanking allegations involving Chantry when he was hired in 2002, but since no charges were filed, they were comfortable bringing him aboard.

Bennett, who called Chantry a model teacher and considers him a friend, said there were no formal accusations made against Chantry at Christian Liberty except the 2004 case.

But it was that complaint that Bennett said prompted him to end the school’s long-standing practice of corporal punishment, in place since the school’s 1968 founding.

“When the incident took place, I remember I said, ‘Don’t blame Tom, blame me, blame the school, because that’s our policy,'” Bennett said.
Source: Arlington Heights Daily Herald


Below is the letter Tom Morrison foolishly wrote on behalf of Thomas Chantry. Why would a politician in the midst of a tough re-election campaign write a positive character reference letter for a man who had recently been convicted of two felony accounts of assaulting children? (A man whom he later admitted he had not been in contact with for 15 years.)

Predictably, the press blasted Morrison. He stubbornly stood by his comments – for one day. Then, realizing that if he continued to do so he would be committing political suicide, Morrison recanted. Below are some quotes from the past two days.

“Morrison had sent the note to attorneys seeking leniency for Thomas Chantry, a pastor/teacher recently convicted of child abuse in Arizona. The abuse occurred nearly 20 years ago, before Morrison knew Chantry when they were both 5th grade school teachers at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights. During court proceedings, Arizona prosecutors had described the incidents as “unspeakable acts of sadistic physical abuse.”
Source: Politico – Morrison: “I made a grave error”


“Christian Liberty Academy plays an important role in Morrison’s life. Along with being a 5th grade teacher there for six years, his parents had helped found the school in 1969. Chantry taught there from 2002 to 2006.

Reached by phone, Morrison said, “I stand by what I wrote. I’m not going to talk about anything beyond the brief time we taught together.” He dismissed the media attention to his letter, saying voters have bigger concerns.”
Source: Politico – State Rep. Morrison Vouches for Child Abuser


“Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison is withdrawing that letter he wrote vouching for a convicted child abuser in Arizona. In a statement to POLITICO, Morrison said, “I made a grave error in not doing further research into the full scope of the situation before submitting a letter and getting involved.”

Morrison concluded saying he’s “seeking to withdraw” his testimony in the letter “so there is no confusion regarding my position in this issue.”
Source: Politico – Morrison: “I made a grave error”


“Morrison said Thursday he provided the three-sentence letter — in which he identifies himself as an Illinois state representative — to Chantry’s defense attorney via email on Sept. 10. Morrison said people he knows from Christian Liberty encouraged him to send a letter on Chantry’s behalf.

In a follow-up statement, Morrison said he “made a grave error” in not doing further research into the full scope of the situation.
Source: Arlington Heights Daily Herald – Morrison Retracts Letter Supporting Pastor Convicted of Physically Abusing Kids


What follows are four more letters written to Judge Astrowsky on behalf of Thomas Chantry. All four letters were undoubtedly written after encouraged to do so by people from CLA. I will comment after each.

To which I can only say that Thomas Chantry fooled you like he has fooled so many other fine Christian folks. If you would have been able to sit through the entire Chantry trial, as I did, you would have been shocked to find that the man you praise was a sick, evil man that preyed on young boys. Or, in the words of a boy who was sexually molested by Chantry at the age of ten said, Chantry, is a “sick, twisted monster!”

The following three letters are written by a father, a mother and their son.

This just goes to show you that a narcissistic pedophile can fool even a Police officer who likely has much experience with men of questionable character.  I would hope that if Officer Sherwell were to become acquainted with the facts of the Chantry case he would also retract his statement.

Josie Sherwell is a teacher at CLA. I would guess she felt a bit pressured by her employer to write a favorable letter to Judge Astrowsky on behalf of Thomas Chantry. Again, I am sure she is a decent lady, but she just does not know the facts of the Thomas Chantry case. Again, if she witnessed the entire trial, as I did, she would never have written this letter.


Jonathan is a former student of CLA and then he worked for CLA for six years. Again, I would guess he felt pressured to write a positive reference letter to Judge Astrowsky on behalf of Thomas Chantry. And again, I would submit he does not know the real Thomas Chantry.


All the letters praising Thomas Chantry can be seen in the document below.


2018-10-16 p1300cr201600966… by on Scribd


So back to my question, why exactly does Philip Bennett and CLA continue to strongly support Thomas Chantry?

To begin with, by all reports Philip Bennett is good friends with Walter Chantry, the father of Thomas Chantry. There was a quote above where Bennett said he considers Thomas Chantry to be a friend.  To an even greater degree, this would be true of Walter Chantry.

Walter Chantry has spoken at the CLA chapel service many times.  He has also preached at Church of Christian Liberty on at least four occasions. (Church of Christian Liberty is affiliated with Christian Liberty Academy.)



I saw the comment below on the Wartburg Watch blog. After investigating I found out it is indeed true.  Walter Chantry’s daughter, Rebecca, is married to Philip Bennett’s son, Andrew.


So, you can see that in addition to a friendship between Philip Bennett and Walter Chantry, there is also a strong family bond. You will also see below that there are at least four Bennett family members drawing a salary from CLA. So, in my opinion, when it comes to choosing to do the right thing or choosing to protect a friend and family member, it would seem apparent that doing the right thing loses out.

My hope is that enough people will read this and take a closer look at CLA and their relationship with Thomas Chantry and they will then mount enough public pressure to force CLA to do the right thing. It is really abhorrent to see a Christian school subjugate truth to friendship and family ties. It ought not be.



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Former GBC member

This entire episode is a sterling example of how tribalism blinds. It’s why parents insist their sons can do no wrong. It’s why people will excoriate the Clintons’ misdeeds but praise Trump unreservedly.

It’s why soldiers will blindly follow illegal and immoral orders, while at the same time easily recite the enemy’s moral failings.

It’s neither political nor religious. But as much as we may derive satisfaction at the discovery and declaration of hypocrisy and blindness in others, make no mistake: this is a universal trait which we are all carry and must guard against.

I am ashamed when I consider how, in my ignorance, I have boldly defended people and acts I can now look back to and see are wholly indefensible.

Our discussion here is meaningless if we do not regularly conclude by asking if – or rather – where, in our own lives, we, too, are guilty of advancing evil in the name of ‘peace’, ‘loyalty’, or some other misapplied virtue.

Thanks for the comment. I agree in theory.

Practically speaking, I personally primarily try to help sexual abuse victims take their cases to the criminal and civil legal system as opposed to “letting our Church handle it,” which is what their pastors often tell them to do.

Churches in the United States have no more right to adjudicate sexual abuse crimes than they do the crimes of murder, kidnapping, or drunk driving.

These criminal acts need to be immediately reported to civil authorities irrespective of anyone’s private religious beliefs, in my view.

The degree to which many Christians do not seem to realize this is shocking. I think that some church leaders and pastors could benefit from spending time in prison and contemplating whether illegally letting serial pedophiles run loose in their churches was really a good idea.

That’s just my two cents. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Former GBC member


(Thumbs-up emoji)


P.S. I saw a couple of grammar errors in my comment – considering my previous comments regarding the misuse of apostrophes, I can only say, mea culpa.

Thanks, I was taught that good writers should probably take context into consideration.

I used to worry a lot more about making grammar and punctuation errors when responding to comments.

Given the very serious nature of the subjects discussed on this blog, I now try not to put off hitting the “reply button” due to excessive proofreading anxiety. For example, I’m not sure if “proofreading” should have a hyphen.?

I always adhere to the minimal rule that, when writing quickly and informally, a grammar issue isn’t really important unless it obscures the point you’re trying to make.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Cindy Schmidt

Well said, Janna! Amen to that!


Not Going to Be Manipulated


You make a great point here. It’s Matthew 7 where Jesus describes taking the speck out of another’s eye while missing the log in your own eye. I know I can easily fall into that where I’m pointing out another’s sin but not dealing with my own. Good reminder for me. Thank you for sharing.


There appears to be a lot of nepotism going on at the CLA, which is rarely healthy. The fact that Chantry was given a job there in spite of his history with children suggests that the favors began early. His sister’s marriage to the headmaster’s son only reinforces the appearance of family unity and circle the wagons support for Chantry.

Douglas R Belardi

ARBCA, IRBS, CLA -yes … nepotism is the order of the day

Yes, nepotism often seems to be facilitated by both blood and marriage ties in small parachurch organizations. In my view, that can make their churches start to operate like family businesses.

I don’t think that’s a good idea, yet many others can and do seem to have a different opinion about tolerating nepotism in pastoral circles.

Marrying the daughters of prominent Sovereign Grace pastors or leaders used to bring young men in their 20s great prosperity, for example. In some cases, these special son-in-laws were immediately given leadership positions that put them in charge of experienced pastors with more than 20 or even 30 years of service under their belts.

That or these husbands were given the financial resources needed to start their own churches prematurely, in my view.

Many Sovereign Grace church members didn’t seem to have a problem with the informal caste system the nepotism described above created.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Headless Unicorn Guy

“Marrying the daughters of prominent Sovereign Grace pastors or leaders used to bring young men in their 20s great prosperity…”

Thus uniting the Great Houses of Baratheon and Lannister.
Or securing the succession of all titles and holdings of House Stark to House Bolton.