I write through life to understand and find truth. As I craft my memoir, the following experience crossed up and out of the pages of my experience. Here are my thoughts and current conclusions.
VerdeNews, Aug. 18, 2018 "Throughout the trial, the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches’ investigation into Chantry’s misconduct was mentioned. During
that investigation more than 20 years ago, nothing was reported to the police. Tuesday, Judge
Astrowsky warned both counselors to not derail too much into ARBCA as they are
not being tried in this case. 'If this were a trial of ARBCA, they’d be
convicted,' he said. 'But that’s not what this trial is about.'"
This man, Tom Chantry, whom County Prosecutor Susan Eazer called a "sick, twisted, pedophile," ran from the church he pastored in Prescott, AZ, to my congregation where I attended for thirty years. There, not knowing his charges, he was welcomed, sat among us and our children, preached, and was sent on with blessings to work in an elementary school and eventually pastor another church in Wisconsin.
The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America investigated Chantry's crimes in AZ, sealed their findings which included his "punishing children for his own pleasure." They created a second, modified document and shared it with victims' parents. A criminal offense was committed when the police were not notified of Chantry's crimes by the association.
Illinois police have a documented case of physical assault against a five year old in the elementary school Chantry went to following his time in our congregation. The coverup enabled more victimization.
I was told he was running from a misunderstanding: "It was just spankings." I was told, "He just needs a wife."
The jury found Chantry guilty of two counts of physical assault. He was determined not guilty of molesting a four year old and not guilty in one count of assault. The four counts of molestation will be retried. It was originally reported one juror, with a prejudice against victims, falsely gained entry onto the jury and created the hung jury/mistrial. As well, AZ law does not consider rubbing the bare bottom of a child a sexual assault. I find this unbelievable.
Chantry has committed and been convicted of felonies. This is not "just spankings." He is not a saint suffering for upholding the Bible and the discipline of a child. He is not a Joseph, falsely accused and imprisoned. He is convicted, with more convictions possibly in the future.
I grieve for the victims who will have to once again take the stand. I'm thankful the prosecutor has not grown weary. I watch for civil suits to follow and more victims to possibly come forward as justice is restored. The State's Attorneys Office for Yavapai County, AZ is planning to prosecute the men in ARBCA who covered up the crimes.
So what do we need? We need to educate churches and leaders to care well for the victims of assault. We need a heart for the victims, an upholding of their value and worth. We need to listen and offer all resources for recovery. Along with justice, we need help for the perpetrators, so often victims themselves. There is no room for nepotism, denial, covering, or the end justifying the means. There is no room for error as these are souls, made in the image of God, and they have been hurt and are hurting. There is no room for silence.