Day Five of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | May 1, 2019

“It is still incomprehensible to us as to how these actions by Tom were justified. Legally, what Tom did would be considered child abuse and could be subject to prosecution. We hope someday to get answers. It is still a great concern of ours that Tom does not fully understand the gravity of this matter.”

Letter to Walter Chantry, November 21, 2000
from Miller Valley Baptist Church Elders Rich Howe and Eric Owens

“We were returning him to his full duties and responsibilities as Pastor effective the following Sunday.”

Letter to Walter Chantry, November 21, 2000
from Miller Valley Baptist Church Elders Rich Howe and Eric Owens

“Religion has the capacity to silence critical thinking and create blindness in entire groups of people. It can infect the minds of followers so completely as to allow the most egregious sexual acts against children and others to go unchallenged for centuries.”

-Darrel Ray

 

Chantry Trial – Day 5
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Testifying today:
Rich Howe – former Elder at Miller Valley Baptist Church
Eric Owens – Elder at Miller Valley Baptist Church
CL – mother of boy victimized by Chantry
Jessica Bellings (formerly Barnard)  former Detective, Prescott Police Department

Today was not a banner day for the prosecution.

Anyone who has been following my blog knows I don’t write as a journalist would for a newspaper, that is to say, I do not pretend to be unbiased. While I always attempt to be factual and honest, I write to support victims of abuse and expose corrupt pastors. At the end of the day I desire truth and justice to prevail. That being said, I feel I need to take some of  the witnesses from today to task for what I perceive to be either laziness or complacency as it relates to their preparation (or lack thereof) for their testimony in this trial. Others I will take issue with for what I perceive to be a troubling lack of concern for the walking wounded – those who are still hurting from the devastation wreaked by Thomas Chantry. Again, these are my perceptions, feel free to disagree, state your own opinions in the comments or even start your own blog.

To be fair, my frustration level has been rising over the past three days of testimony as I see Tom Chantry’s attorney, Ryan Stevens, time after time point out inconsistencies with what witnesses have said in this trial and what they have said in the previous trial. Stevens is a sharp attorney, but it doesn’t take a genius to catch the inconsistencies. To date, everyone who has taken the witness stand has testified in the previous Chantry trial, so this is not your first rodeo. You should have a fairly good idea of what to expect when you take the stand.

Is it too much to ask that prior to your testimony you would have reviewed what you have previously said under oath or written in a letter? Apparently so.

How much effort would it have taken to request transcripts of your testimony or reviewed documents you have authored prior to entering court?

Frankly, it is embarrassing to watch Defense Attorney Stevens ask you a question such as, did you previously state “X” in your letter? Your response is, “I don’t believe so,” or “I don’t recall,” followed by Stevens referring you to your letter and then you admitting that yes, you did say that!

It is my opinion that MVBC Elders seriously let down the victims and family members during Chantry’s reign of terror beginning in 1995 through 2000. It is my opinion that you have done so again today with your ill-prepared testimony.

How can you, in your letter to Walter Chantry, state that, “what Tom did would be considered child abuse and could be subject to prosecution.”  But then, in the same letter state that, We were returning him to his full duties and responsibilities as Pastor effective the following Sunday.”

You stated that, “It is still incomprehensible to us as to how these actions by Tom were justified.” I agree. Additionally, I find your actions of returning Tom to his “full duties and responsibilities” incomprehensible.

According to your letter you planned on restoring Tom to his “full duties and responsibilities” on November 13, 2000. I am left to wonder if Chantry’s latest victim, the young boy who was beaten so badly that he had purple welts from the top of his butt to knee level down his thighs, was even able to sit without discomfort by the time you allowed Chantry back in the pulpit? 

Then your letter  to Walt goes on to state that, On December 6, we were calling for a day of prayer and fast and to convene a congregational meeting in the evening. At this meeting, we were to hear from the body. Had they seen sufficient change, not over just the specific sin issue, which most had already forgiven him for, but had they seen a heart-change of attitude in his relationship to his flock?” 

Therefore you were giving the church members 3 1/2 weeks to judge if Tom had changed significantly enough to keep him as your pastor? A “30 day probation period” if you will. Let it be noted that the judge sentenced Chantry to 3 years probation for convictions of assault on two of the four children you knew that he had abused. Did you seriously think Chantry would be a changed man by December 6, 2000? We are still waiting for him to admit his sins.

Finally, why the deference shown to Walter Chantry? A 60 year-old man sticks his nose into something he has no business intruding into – he wants to clean-up little Tommy’s mess, something he has probably been doing for all of what at that point was the 28 years Tom had been alive, and you allow him to do so, even volunteering to send him copies of the letters members of MVBC had written.  Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t Baptist churches prides themselves on being autonomous and independent. MVBC was a member of ARBCA, but Walter Chantry held no position in that organization,

Can anyone imagine a situation where you were 28 years-old, gainfully employed, and your employer had proposed suspending you for 30 days for inappropriate behavior and then your father, who lived 2,000 miles away, stuck his nose in the matter and wrote a nasty letter to your employer, chastising them for daring to suspend his son?

 “It is the opinion of the Elders that Tom has done much damage to the church and to himself by resigning in such fashion.”

That may be true, but in my opinion whatever damage he did by his sudden departure pales in comparison to what he may have done to the next child from your church that he chose to “tutor.”

“We desired to hold him in highest esteem according to what we have been commanded to do in Scripture.”

Were you referring to Scripture such as this:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.”
-Ezekiel 34:10 NIV

“We have made excuses for his behavior, citing his youth, his singleness, and his pessimism, in hopes of softening some of his rough edges.”

Yes you have.

Pastor Chris Marley was also on the stand today. He is the current pastor of MVBC and did not arrive there until after Chantry had left.  He was on the stand for a total of about 5 minutes. I don’t think his testimony helped or hindered the prosecution.

I would have liked to seen pastor Marley remain in the courthouse to offer some comfort to CL. Although she is no longer a member of MVBC, I believe she was until 2016. I don’t know any of the back-story, whether CL departed on friendly terms, etc., but regardless of the situation, it would have been great if pastor Marley would have stuck around and done some of that “pastoring” stuff. CL is the mother of the child who was beaten so severely by Chantry that he could hardly walk or sit down; he is the child I described above with the welts. CL still suffers great anguish from what happened to her son. Perhaps pastor Marley still shows love and care for CL out of the public eye. If so, good on him, I hope he does.

I have nothing to say about the testimony of CL except to mention my heart goes out to her.

The testimony of former Prescott Police Department detective Billings (formerly Barnard) was much the same as at the previous trial. This case was the first sexual molestation case she handled after becoming a detective so she could have done a more thorough job. She admitted as much. Defense attorney Stevens made his point about that fact and didn’t belabor it, which I thought was good. Prosecutor Eazer made the point that there are always things you can do better in any investigation.

Sorry for the rant today. I didn’t deal with much of the actual testimony, suffice it to say it was much the same as at the first trial.

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RB History

Walter Chantry may not have held a position in ARBCA at the time, but he was the major player in the starting of it, and the most influential Pastor in the organization. He was instrumental in starting the predecessor, Reformed Baptist Mission Services (see http://arbca.com/rbms ) which eventually led to the starting of ARBCA.

Archie Grey

Why would the parents of “the young boy who was beaten so badly that he had purple welts from the top of his butt to knee level down his thighs” not call the police? As I sit here now it seems absurd but I was in a reformed baptist church for about 10 years so I can’t assume I would have done any different. Reformed Baptists are very authoritarian. The pastor is put on a pedestal although they hold to a no clergy/laity distinction. They think they speak for God when they preach. No need to say more. Thank you Todd and Janna for the work you do. (and also to any others who may help you)

Thanks, child abuse cases bring up many difficult issues. I know that’s an understatement.

I appreciate your support. At the same time, any corrections about factual issues or substantive feedback about anything, from non-supporters and supporters alike, is also welcome.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Curious

Wow! I get it that TWW Hero Todd Wilhelm is great at exposing abuse, but how can the police fail to “do a thorough job” and have a case like this come to trial?

East Coaster

If police didn’t do their job, how can we believe anything presented here?

Thanks, Todd says that he will respond to your comment later today. He’s in court listening to the trial now.

Here’s my limited response that only reflects my personal opinions.

First, you don’t have to believe anything said on this blog. Todd hopes that this blog helps people think for themselves, despite his bias toward believing reported victims.

We both (mostly Todd) go to the expense of acquiring legal documents and maintaining a private blog so that others, like you, can review quality primary source material for free.

That gives this blog credibility and is probably why ARBCA dislikes it and Todd so much. 😉 I perceive that ARBCA doesn’t subscribe to the idea that people should be allowed to think for themselves.

And that many people in its associated churches dislike that perspective and would rather research factual material pertaining to the Tom Chantry case. That’s why so many people connected to ARBCA read posts on this blog.

If you don’t find the material on this blog credible, no one will be offended if you don’t read it.

Second, I believe that the police did their job fundamentally.

The evidence that they did obtain helped enable the state to bring charges against Tom Chantry.

In the first trial he was acquitted of one crime, convicted of two crimes, and the jury was hung regarding several criminal counts of sexual molestation.

Therefore, all the jurors believed that the evidence gathered was sufficient to prove that some criminal conduct occurred. I doubt that would have been the case if the police hadn’t done their jobs at all.

Therefore, I think that the police did their jobs at a basic level at least. Whether or not they could have done a better job can be debated.

Frankly, that subject seems to be debated in most criminal cases. Overall, I appreciate the hard and often thankless work that police officers do.

Thanks for your comment.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

East Coaster

You are factually incorrect — there were two acquittals.

Thanks for the correction. I’ll go back and review the outcome of the last trial.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Concerned Christian

East Coaster, as a person formerly part of ARBCA, I believe plenty of what Todd relays here in his blog. Why? Because I have been able to personally prove many of the things he has written. How? I was a member at Giarrizzo’s church and can verify plenty of facts. I know many of the people involved with ARBCA and involved with this case and GCC has a long tangled history (sadly) connected to Chantry. Why do you think I left…….

Van Helsing

It is so sad that the supposed elders at MVBC from 1995-2000 lacked sufficient judgment and discernment to see TC for what he really was and then lacked the moral strength to take appropriate action – especially after five years. He preyed on their naivete and ignorance of Scripture regarding forgiveness and proper restitution of a sinner. I would agree that TC has fooled many (including himself) by his seeming erudition, theological acumen and Reformed orthodoxy but his “fruit” was rotten and they ate it anyway. Their vulnerable children paid the price for their blindness.

MiAmigo

The uncovering of lies by witnesses supersedes Van Helsing’s sadness. Does he/she not care that false testimony has been given?

You make a good point about priorities, in my view.

I maintain that inconsistencies between different testimonies can, but don’t necessarily, indicate that a witness is lying.

This subject is up for debate on this blog.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

RBGrl

“A 60 year-old man sticks his nose into something he has no business intruding into”

Hmmmm … I don’t know how you all act in the US, but here in Canada a 60 year old man wouldn’t stick his nose into a court case of someone and pretend he knows the facts.

But it’s okay for you to submit an anonymous comment on a blog, which
just snidely suggests that you somehow know all the facts. 😉

The U.S. justice system is transparent not secretive. Todd is actually attending the trial and basing his arguments primarily on publicly available documents.

I can’t speak to how the criminal justice system works in Canada. How is that subject relevant to the facts of the Chantry case?

Do you think that any individual can know all the facts of any case?

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

P.S. – relying on ad hominem attacks is a logical fallacy.

That’s a fact. 😉

In the U.S., many people “stick their noses” into child abuse cases because they care about children.

I suspect that the same is true in Canada.

Tom Chantry has already been convicted of brutally assaulting children.

Is there some reason you don’t seem drawn to that fact?

Or is that not a fact to you in Canada?

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Dee Parsons

Todd is exercising the rights we have here in the United States to observe and report on the proceedings of a court case. I’m sorry to hear that in Canada this is not allowed or are you misunderstanding your rights as a citizen?

Thanks, Dee.

To all: Todd declined to publish some recently submitted responses to certain comments. They were just personal attacks with no substance.

Per the comment guidelines of this blog, comments should feature intelligent reasoning or credible sources.

There are many blogs that will publish the equivalent of, “nanny nanny boo boo, our pastors are better than you.”

Thou Art The Man just isn’t one of them. Thanks for understanding.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Grace & Peace

Is it really that shocking that when an online horde attacks a man they clearly don’t know that someone might want to set the record straight with an alternative view?

Would you like to set the record straight with an alternate view? If so, you’re welcome to do so.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

For a second I thought you were referring to Todd being attacked by people who don’t know him. 😉

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Just want to be heard

Grace & Peace- TC is a convicted felon, with a long history of anger issues and abuse. Even the 3 man investigative team noted these problems in their private report on what they found. Sadly, they failed in doing the right thing by reporting him to the police. I truly feel that this is the Lord bringing all of these sins to light.
What is it, that you can offer, that would set the record straight? I really would love to know. What is it, that these victims and their families have to gain, by making this all up? Those who support TC have slandered others and have not shown a Christ like attitude in their responses towards any of this (I witnessed first hand how these “brothers” acted).
This “horde” is here because we have been lied to by men we trusted. We have come here for truth (When we first started reading this blog, it was to look at the papers and documents to decide for ourselves). Now, we are here to offer more truth from the lies that unfortunately are still happening. We are not here to cause trouble, but as a voice for truth.
My heart is broken for the victims and their families. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak they are living out from all of this. Put yourself in their place. Show compassion and love.

Concerned Christian

Amen JWTBH! I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for your comments and compassion in this situation. From your perspective and comments, this has obviously had a great impact on you personally. It’s a shame that one man’s sin has impacted you and so many people; sadly, even 20 years later.

Todd, Jana, keep doing what you’re doing. JWTBH is right. Many have come here for truth and that’s what you have given so many by reporting on this case and situation. Guys like TC and those in ARBCA don’t want you to tell the truth because it exposes their sin. Sure it’s humiliating when our sin is exposed many times but in this case, it needs to be. You both have done a great service for so many people by making them aware of the truth. I’m not sure if you realize but you have literally spared many of us much grief, hurt, and abuse by exposing what has been going on for years. Without your digging in and exposure of facts, many of us would be in the dark and subjected to the whims and desires of many a sinful pastor. Thank you and praise God for your desire to tell the truth even in the face of threats and hatred.

Likewise, concerned Christian. I hope that this blog and others like it discourage people from attending ARBCA churches.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

So Thankful

Todd, Thanks so much for that helpful rant! You articulated so well many of the aggravatingly contradicting ideas that have not, till now, been clearly addressed. (ie: Tom’s actions, admitted to be illegal, yet they were restoring him to his duties as pastor!) I tried to bring some of the contradictions up to my own pastor when we left our church, but was so unable to think while being shamed for mis-trusting him. I was very willing then, even hoping, to hear “an alternative view to set the record straight.” There never has been one, not a single explanation that makes any sense. Honestly, Todd, your blog has been life-changing for my family. I am so thankful to you for exposing the rot. I do hope you will keep us posted with any new departures from ARBCA. That is always encouraging. We still have hope, naive that it may be, that there may yet be a few men of conscience there.

Also the comments here, especially those of Just Want to be Heard and Concerned Christian, are so relatable to our own experience in these churches. The Lord rebuke these men and continue to expose them.

Thanks for your considered comment.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Um....

Well, could it possibly be that inconsistencies demonstrate lies???? Does it even occur to ANYONE to see this??

I can’t accuse you of lying, yet I’m not sure why you just submitted the last two comments under different names.

I would expect someone so concerned about facts to be more transparent about their identity. 😉

Yes, inconsistencies in testimony can indicate dishonesty. Care to elaborate more on your concerns, or can I look forward to reading more vague one liners followed by many questions marks?

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Concerned Christian

Um….. in the world of Reformed Baptists, yes. To the rest of us mere mortals, no. Inconsistencies could mean people forgot, are under pressure, or being questioned in a way by an attorney that makes them look guilty, dishonest, or not having their story straight. That’s what lawyers are trained to do. They don’t always win cases by presenting evidence that their client is innocent; rather sometimes they win by showing their opponents to be unfit by pointing out things that make them look inconsistent or incompetent.

That’s an excellent rebuttal, in my opinion.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Kathy craig

Well said! Inconsistency may simple mean they forget small details. And lawyers do try to twist the facts.

Please don’t lump all reformed Baptist in one mold. There are many good and godly pastors of reformed baptist churches out there. Look at the many churches that have chosen to withdraw from The association.

I am truly grateful to Todd for following this case and for being an advocate for the abused.
My
Prayer is that if TC is Guilty he would be found guilty in a court of law.

Elizabeth

Others have answered your question, now I’d like to ask you one, if you don’t mind. It seems perhaps you support Chantry…if so, I ask this sincerely and with no sarcasm:

In your opinion, why would these now grown-up children lie? The 3 man council said they found the children credible, among other things. Why would these young children lie and why, now that they are grown with their own children, why would they continue to lie and subject themselves and their families to this anguish? Why would they subject their own parents to this crushing guilt? What possible reason would they all have to behave in such an illogical manner, not to mention subjecting themselves to perjury and whatever other laws there are to expose and prosecute false criminal accusations? It couldn’t be money they are after, there are no book deals I know of; it’s certainly not fame, as their identities are pretty much guarded, even now, after all these years. So why would they all seek to ruin a man at such great personal expense?

I cannot fathom one single favorable motive they might have to perpetrate and continue this over the years. If you sincerely believe Chantry to be innocent of these horrendous accusations, or even if you’re on the fence, please help us to understand. Motive is a huge part of the equation of guilt/innocence. There must be a reason why, especially when there is more than one accuser. There’s an old adage that goes something like this: Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead. In this case, it would be five, I think, who would need to keep the secret safe if indeed this is a conspiracy to ruin a good man.

Dee Parsons

Harvard Law School is famous for a particular class. At some point, with no warning, a bizarre incident involving actors plays out in a class. Immediately after the event stops, the professor will go trough the entire class, asking the students what they saw. No one student responds the same as another. Some even misunderstand some of thee actions.

Inconsistencies are part and parcel of being human. They do not point to lies. Instead, the emotions of the moment, including fear and confusion, lead to differing perspectives. Abuse is like that. The emotions of the moment can cause the brain to protect itself from replaying the unimaginable.

In many cases of child sex abuse, true memories don’t surface until the person hits their 30s, when their adult mind can help put the childhood memories into perspective as well as provide and understanding and safe adult interpretation of events.