Day 3 of the Re-trial of Thomas Chantry

By | April 26, 2019

“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.”
Anna C. Salter

“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.”
Renee Fredrickson, Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse

 

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.

 

“For many former victims, it is only after many months or even years of therapy before they develop enough trust in someone to tell their secret. Unfortunately, for various reasons, many former victims never make it to a therapist, even as adults.

If you are one of the many people who continue to carry the secret of childhood sexual abuse, it is vital that you break your silence. Even though it is difficult to reach the point where you can finally tell someone, this dark secret can make you sick, emotionally, psychologically, even physically. Like cancer, it can eat at you from inside, draining you of vital energy and good health.

The secret of child sexual abuse is especially shaming. It can make you feel like there is something seriously wrong with you; that you are inferior or worthless. You want to hide for fear of your secret being exposed. You don’t want to look other people in the eye for fear that they will discover who you really are and what you have done. You don’t want people to get too close for fear of them finding out your dark secret. And to make matters worse, carrying around this secret isolates you from other people. It makes you feel different from others. It makes you feel alone.

There is already a tremendous amount of darkness connected to child sexual abuse: the clandestine, sinister way it is accomplished; the manipulation and dishonesty surrounding it; the lies and deception used to keep it a secret; the darkness and pain surrounding the violation of a child’s most intimate parts of his or her body; and the violation of the child’s integrity. Keeping the abuse a secret adds darkness to an already dark and sinister act.

When you don’t share the secret of child sexual abuse you don’t have the opportunity to receive the support, understanding and healing you so need and deserve. You continue to feel alone and to blame yourself. You continue to be overwhelmed with fear and shame.

I urge anyone who is still struggling because they can’t tell anyone about their victimization to seek counseling. You can also call RAINN at (800) 656-4673 to talk to a counselor.”

Psychology Today – March 6, 2019
“Why Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse Don’t Disclose
Beverly Engle L.M.F.T.

 

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.

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Mr. Jesperson

I just want to thank Todd again for taking the time to attend yet another trial so that he can share what is happening with the larger world. During the first trial, I was out of state. Now I am in state but not that close to Camp Verde or I would try to attend at least part of a day myself. Perhaps sometime soon I will have the opportunity to meet Todd in person and we can share notes.

I believe what he is doing is critical as The Church spends large sums of money on junk entertainment, but dealing with internal issues of severe sin like this is not even an afterthought in the budget. Our celebrities do not want accountability and how they spend their resources proves that.

The Apostle Paul states that in the next life we are supposed to judge angels, but that in this one we cannot even judge, nor police ourselves. This was to the shame of the church that Paul wrote to, and a greater shame today as we tithe so that many vanities can be paid for, but we refuse to let either the World or God Almighty righteously judge and condemn what is happening inside our churches. The fact that Todd has to do this himself and on his own dime just shows how severely corrupt the institutional church is. There are lots of resources out there and lots of people with large audiences who, frankly, do not give a damn about either justice or righteousness. What we call a “church” has zero in common with the actual Father God who throne is founded on both. This problem goes way beyond ARBCA and the SBC and the RC with their corruption hitting secular presses because the so-called Christian press simply, again, does not give a damn.

Barbara Roberts

“The fact that Todd has to do this himself and on his own dime just shows how severely corrupt the institutional church is. There are lots of resources out there and lots of people with large audiences who, frankly, do not give a damn about either justice or righteousness. What we call a ‘church’ has zero in common with the actual Father God who throne is founded on both.

^ That

Unfortunately, the situation you describe regarding perceived church corruption is even worse, in my view. There is very credible evidence that, at least one of the major church organizations discussed on this blog, used church funds to pay lawyers to defend known child molesters.

The church knew these people were sexual predators because they confessed those sins/crime to their pastors.

I try not to tell people what to think…not always successfully. However, I now advise folks to avoid churches that’s pastors are not transparent about how church funds are used.

The authoritarian, elder-led polity system seems to attract abusive, irresponsible pastors at a high rate.

Thanks for the comments.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Douglas Belardi

I agree completely
Do you anticipate sometime soon being able to provide SOME of the “credible evidence” online?

Thanks, it was brought up in the context of a lawsuit. The lawyers for the victims would be privvy to the details, as they made the allegations.

I don’t think that the specific information, about concrete numbers, can be acquired by ordinary members of the public, unfortunately.

The pastors and leaders of the mega church in question never publicly denied hiring lawyers for confessed pedophiles, to my knowledge.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Headless Unicorn Guy

The authoritarian, elder-led polity system seems to attract abusive, irresponsible pastors at a high rate.

Feature, not Bug?

boyfriend was vitimized

I appreciated this:
“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.” THIS IS TRUE!! I had a high school boyfriend who told me his nextdoor neighbor molested him (he didn’t even know that word) when he was six. He was ashamed of our relationship; he couldn’t progress in it, yet, I was the one to whom he revealed his darkest secret. We were barely 18 when he told me. I am sure he never had help and I had no idea what to say. I had never heard of anything like that until that point! The room was dark and still when he told me. I just held him. I wish that I could have helped and had more knowledge. They say that heart disease is the health issue that results from being molested, and he already had symptoms at age 18. I knew he could not get away from the control of his father, family business, etc., and that bothered me. Years later I found out his dad was a perpetrator to another friend of mine.
I really appreciate reading these reports on this trial. I wish my friend had the opportunity to at least have the truth be told in a way that verified it, as in this court case. But, as it is, I have seen him on the internet “preaching” and telling his church audience to never let others tell them the stories of their childhood abuses or they would literally be playing the role of “satan” to those people. He was obsessed with satan from about age 18 on.

Barbara Roberts

I agree with what all commenters have said here so far.

And my heart goes out to the primary witness.

Here in Australia, Cardinal George Pell (who was third top dog at the Vatican) was convicted of child sexual abuse. Two victims, both boys at the time. One of them has since committed suicide, so there was only one accuser alive. It was that man’s accusations, given over three days in the trial, that brought the jury to convict Pell. Pell is now in jail.

But Pell is going to be appealing the conviction. So that man will have to give his testimony and be cross examined all over again. The man is roughly the same age as the key witness in this Chantry trial. And he is married with young children. So these men have a fair bit in common.

Be assured I will be praying for this man who is testifying against Chantry, and for his wife and kids and his brother. And for the jury.

May the ARBCA henchmen end up shamed, and may their plans be stymied.

Elizabeth

For this victim’s sake, I surely hope Chantry is found guilty of at least one charge. I cannot even fathom the pain, confusion and betrayal he will suffer if this is all for nothing, again. To tell his story, for the second time, and to not be believed, for the second time, would be just devastating, I’d imagine.

Did this victim speak of spiritual abuse, being told that God would be mad if he told anyone? Being beaten while answering catechism questions is spiritual abuse, as well as physical abuse.

You mention that you see Steven’s defense as two-pronged…can you tell me if there were discrepancies in this victim’s story over the years? I understand this is common in child abuse cases so I’m curious how large a part this will play, if it happened, in this case. My heart hurts for this man, having to relive this publicly again…I wish there were some way I could show support for him.

Yes, I also pray for the jurors, because I now know from personal experience that being one is not easy.

Their role is not as simple as deciding whether or not they personally believe the accused or the reported victim.

It’s determining whether a reasonable person could possibly doubt the guilt of the accused.

Therefore a juror can believe that Chantry is guilty but still feel compelled to vote to acquit him. That’s probably difficult emotionally.

In my view, the real culprits are Chantry’s enablers. If they hadn’t worked so hard to suppress credible allegations of abuse against him, the victims would have fresher cases.

There’d probably also be fewer victims. I suspect that more victims will come forward. Chantry’s alleged behavior is that of a serial child abuser, in my view.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Douglas Belardi

based upon my former membership in an ARBCA church, I think the leadership, elders, deacons and members will have a field day if Chantry is aquitted and sadly enough they will cry out pesecution and further circle the wagons if he is adjudged guilty and the enablers will continue on their merry way

I agree. That’s pretty much what they did after the first trial even though Tom Chantry was convicted of two counts of assault.

My hope is that fewer people will join ARBCA churches given all the negative publicity the Chantry scandal has brought the organization.

It’s hard to go after enablers, yet possible to try to prevent future atrocities from happening.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)