“It is a political fight between a group of well-financed, well-organized people whose freedom, livelihood, finances, reputations, or liberty is being threatened by disclosures of child sexual abuse and–on the other hand–a group of well-meaning, ill-organized, underfinanced, and often terribly naive academics who expect fair play.”
“During sexual abuse, children feel and incorporate the rage, pain, shame, and sense of perversion that the perpetrator is projecting. They take these feelings into the very core of themselves, and they are badly traumatized by the emotions surrounding the assault, as well as by the assault itself.”
Day 3 of the Chantry trial consisted of:
Reading of the Charges
Judge Astrowsky reading Preliminary Instructions to the Jury
Opening Statement by the Prosecution (Susan Eazer)
Opening Statement by the Defense (Ryan Stevens)
Testimony of the victim
Testimony of the brother of the victim
I should mention that John Sears, Chantry’s attorney in the first trial, has retired. I imagine his retirement account grew significantly courtesy of Al Huber’s donations! (ARBCA pastor Al Huber is the father-in-law of Thomas Chantry and is likely the one who is bankrolling Chantry’s defense.) Ryan Stevens is now working as Chantry’s defense attorney. I am no legal expert, nor have I witnessed enough trials to enable my opinion to count for anything, but I am impressed with what I have seen so far from Stevens. He comes across as likable, competent and lively. By lively I mean he seems to want to keep things moving along, which is quite unlike his predecessor. Sears seemed to frequently get bogged down in the minutia of the case, but again, I am no expert so perhaps that was a strategy employed by Sears. He was a very successful attorney so who am I to be critical of his tactics?
There were five more people in the gallery today, raising the total attendance to eight! Four women, former members of ARBCA pastor John Giarrizzo’s church in Gilbert made the drive up to show their support for the victim and his family. Additionally, Kelcie Grega, a journalist for the Verde Independent, was also in attendance. She got her article to press much quicker than I so will save some work and suggest you view her article for a good description of Opening Statements.
It appears to me that the Defense strategy is two-pronged, first Stevens will point out where witnesses have changed their stories from the previous trial or hearings where they were under oath to tell the truth, to what they have said in the current trial. Second, Stevens will raise the point of why the victim took so long to claim he was sexually molested. The molestations took place in 1995-96 and the first time the victim told anyone about the molestations was 2007 or 2008.
I am quite certain that Stevens is aware that it is quite common for victims of childhood sexual abuse take many years to speak out about the abuse they endured. This is for a number of different reasons. (If you would like to read more about this see my quote below and then go to the link to read the full story.) Apparently Stevens doesn’t think the jurors in this case will be aware of the delayed reporting, but I think he is wrong. Public awareness of this fact is growing, this is one reason many states are passing laws to extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes.
A good book I read that deals with this issue is titled “Under the Shadow of the Cross.”
The book tells the story of a man who was sexually abused as a child by a priest. It took this man years before he could verbalize to anyone what happened to him. Many years after he was married he finally told his wife and children about the abuse he endured by the priest.
The majority of todays session in court was taken up by the testimony of the victim. Just as in the previous trial, the victims story was compelling, albeit very hard to listen to. It was obvious that even after all these years it was very difficult for this now 34 year-old-man to verbalize what Thomas Chanty did to him when he was a boy of ten. He testified that as much as he would like to be able to forget about what happened to him some twenty four years ago, he cannot. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t think about it.
The last 45 minutes of court were taken up by the testimony of the brother of the victim. His primary purpose was to establish the fact that he witnessed Thomas Chantry spanking his brother bare-bottomed. He did this by climbing up on a chair and peaking through a window in door of the office. Once again his story was hard to listen to as he described, tearfully at times, the damage that had been wreaked in the life of his family by the actions of the Baptist preacher.
Pray for this family, the mother and father will be testifying Friday. If at all possible, show up at court to demonstrate your support for them.