Books by Lorie Ann Grover

Books by Lorie Ann Grover
Kirkus Starred Review, Firstborn: "A fantasy that reads like a lost history tome and deftly examines issues of gender...An engrossing story with welcome depths."

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Tom Chantry Trial and ARBCA Coverup

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. 


Unknown said...

And we need church leaders who are truly regenerate, not Pharisees hiding behind a whitewash outer covering. What the ARBCA leaders did in protecting this evil man so he could prey on other children is more than naivete. It is willful wickedness to protect one of their own wolf herd members.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I agree it wasn't naivete, Jeff. I agree it was willful, and more soul damage resulted. I agree a perceived threat to the power structure drives much evil.

Lisamae said...

Is there another association of Reformed Baptists that churches could be a part of?

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Not that I know, Loren.

Anonymous said...

Phillip M. Way said...

There are several other associations, yes. Check out the Fellowship of Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE Fellowship, of which I am a member), the Reformed Baptist Fellowship (split from ARBCA recently), and Reformed Baptist Network. Many Reformed Baptist Churches are also simply independent churches and not part of an organized association.

Anonymous said...

Lorie Ann, We were there with you when Tom Chantry came to our church. The pastor apparently did know why Tom Chantry ran away from Prescott, but the church was told not ask why he came.

The cover-up is mind boggling. Apparently ARBCA's only concern for Tom Chantry's reputation. Glad we left that church, and ARBCA.

Loren - Yes, there is a new network for Reformed Baptists: Reformed Baptist Network. Seems like a wide spectrum of member churches, and individuals have joined. I think it was formed in late 2015 or early 2016.

Deb O said...

I'm simply no longer a Reformed Baptist. That's always an option too. Shame on Chantry. Any repentence will have to be public, so my hope is someday he will fall on his face before His maker and ask forgiveness of his victims.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Definitely an option, Deb. Hoping for repentance...

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Anonymous, we remember the atmosphere of not being permitted or encouraged to ask why Chantry left. The explanations were whispered to me. I'm glad you are well after moving onward. Me, too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lorie Ann, this summary is better than the blog! Such a time saver! As to those looking for another association of reformed baptist churches. Maybe reconsider. The power and notoriety that comes with an association of pastors impressing each other with their musings and writings may be more temptation than they can handle. Maybe stick with a humble pastor who is willing to be accountable to his flock, reformed baptist or not. "He just needs to be married?" Done with ARBCA!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I agree! If I had a voice back then, I would not have voted to join RBMS and then ARBCA. As a woman, I didn't. My husband was one of two men who voted no. I no longer will not have a vote.

Gatlin said...

Hey Lorie Ann,

I'm doing some looking into this myself, and I'm wondering where you found the information that "The State's Attorneys Office for Yavapai County, AZ is planning to prosecute the men in ARBCA who covered up the crimes."

Thanks and Lord bless you,

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks, Gatlin. Brent Detwiler was at the trial and reported it. You might contact the prosecutor's office for verification. Blessings on you and yours.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this whole diabolical. We left our ARBCA church in March due to our own abuse issues. Ours was psychological/spiritual abuse. It was God’s way of chasing us out of a toxic environment. Then we learned the truth about Chantry and the half truth our Pastor told us about Chantry when he was arrested.

We were in an ARBCA church for 15 years. During that time my husband’s mental health went to pot. He had four hospitalizations during those 15 years and got to the point he didn’t go to church hardly at all. I didn’t understand why and he really didn’t understand why he didn’t want to go either. Once we were chased out of our church we found a good church and it has changed my husband’s life. He loves going to church now. He freely discusses the sermon and he thoroughly enjoys it and is growing spiritually.

While in the ARBCA church, our son began cutting off friends left and right that he had outside of our church because they didn’t believe doctrinally the same as us. Our pastor was encouraging him in this rigidity. He got to the point where he hardly had any friends left. Now he has mended those friendships. Sadly, his friends told him they noticed an attitude of superiority in him and others from Reformed circles. But they have forgiven him and they are really good friends now.

I had no idea how destructive the church was on our family until we left and our family has been profoundly changed for the better. I am grieved for those who do not know how toxic these environments are.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I'm so sad for your experience, Anonymous, and I admire that you had strength to leave your network. You have found such goodness going forward for yourself and family. I am familiar with the atmosphere you describe. I have much joy now, hearing, instead, truth which is full of love and compassion. Here's to even more hope and beautiful truth for you and yours continuing forward!

Paul Schmidt said...

Hello, Lorie Ann,

We returned to your former church in May 2017 with the knowledge of the Chantry issue. I'd found out about it while Googling for the website of church. It was disturbing, but I had hopes the charges might be dropped -- simply out of wishful thinking. Surely ARBCA and PRBC would not associate with such a man if he had done such things.

About a month after we had returned, I asked your former pastor for his thoughts; he said Chantry was not guilty.

Fast-forward to the 1) trial and verdict, 2) the vividly clear evidence that ARBCA covered up Chantry's crimes (Query: Had his last name not been Chantry, would he have been afforded the same leniency and protection?), 3) our shock at recently realizing that PRBC leadership supported Chantry's reinstallation as a pastor, and 4) your former pastor telling me yesterday that he knew all "even before ARBCA did" and despite that he still let a predator stand in the pulpit at PRBC.

We have decided, agonizingly, that we must depart again, despite the love and support we have received from the congregation during fiery trials God has taken us through the past 13 months. It hurts more than I can describe to leave again. However, we cannot support an ARBCA church. Moreover, we cannot tacitly condone PRBC leadership's support of a predator. We did not reapply for membership; doesn't make it any easier.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks so much, Paul. I appreciate your openness and full disclosure so others might understand the situation. I follow your logic and concerns. I'm deeply sorry for your trials this past year. Here's to finding the best place for you and yours to worship and heal. Best to you each on this new beginning. <3

Tango Whiskey said...

Chantry is back in jail. Nine new charges from another victim. Here is a link to a court document I got today.
I believe his goose is cooked.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks much for the update, Tango Whiskey. Wow...

Paul Schmidt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Schmidt said...

Lorie Ann, my wife and I were talking about that particular vote when our former church -- well, the men of our former church -- corporately decided to affiliate our former church with ARBCA. If I recall, it occurred before we became members, so sometime in early 1994(?).

When she reminded me of the "men-only" stipulation, I experienced a wave of outrage and shame -- outrage at the overt sexism which leadership engaged in, shame for not speaking up. Of course, we would then have been persona non gratia, because -- like simply walking into Mordor -- one simply does not question how things are done at that ARBCA church.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Yes, the women did not have a vote. Although I may have muttered "no" under my breath, Paul. My husband and one other voted "no" regarding joining RBMS/ARBCA. As you gave permission to reprint your comment on another blog, I wanted to add it here as well. The congregation of Providence Reformed Baptist Church did not know of Chantry's crimes. I'm trying to process Chantry was preaching before his counselor sessions even began, as weak as they were.

Paul Schmidt
September 14, 2018
Bob Selph states that Providence Reformed Baptist Church “assumed the full responsibility of (Chantry’s) oversight and guidance. As mentioned above, the Tacoma church received the complete packet with all the documents and testimonies.”

Selph erroneously makes the scenario sound as if the entire membership of PRBC knew the reasons why Tom Chantry suddenly showed up one day in 2000. We didn’t. We were told in essence to not ask questions (“Nolite quaerere,” the unofficial motto of PRBC, by the way). Information was intentionally concealed from us, information that could have protected us and our children had Chantry given in to his twisted proclivity while among us.

Nor did we assume “full responsibility” for him; Pastor Tom Lyon did. It’s troubling to me that the congregation of PRBC at that time should be lumped in with Tom Lyon’s decision to bring a deviant predator into our midst, without so much as a “by your leave.”

Further compounding the matter was that PRBC elders, namely Tom Lyon, recommended Chantry for membership knowing what he had done to children in Arizona. He was not “accepted” into membership; Chantry was in essence rammed down our throats, with no opportunity to question him, then he was given space in the pulpit not long afterward

This past Sunday, Sept. 9, Tom Lyon attempted to clarify PRBC’s involvement with Chantry from 2000-2002. He first condemned “muckraking” blogs that are “damaging the reputations of good men,” then scolded the congregation for reading them, then conveniently neglected to mention his continued support of Chantry, including Chantry’s installation as pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Hales Corners.

Four questions that I respectfully challenge Tom Lyon (and all other ARBCA pastors) to answer:

1) When you express more concern about the reputation of men than the suffering of Chantry’s victims, how is that not an indication that something is wrong?

2) When you admonish your congregation for looking at blog sites to seek information about the Chantry matter, yet ARBCA somehow escapes your admonishment for withholding information of crimes (even a trial judge says ARBCA is guilty of a coverup) and for the bumbling, incompetent way it’s handled this entire situation, how is that not an indication that something is wrong?

3) When that same judge must admonish your friend, Pastor Don Linblad, for giving evasive answers under oath, how is that not an indication that something is wrong?

4) When you can speak at Chantry’s installment as pastor at Hales Corners church, knowing what you knew about Chantry’s past behavior, while the Hales Corners church apparently knew nothing, how is that not an indication that something is wrong? Clearly Chantry did not meet the Apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy that an elder “must be without reproach” (I Tom. 3:2).

I hope I have not been overly harsh, Tom. But as you are do fond of saying, someone has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I could've written your post almost word for word. We, too, learned the truth about Chantry only after we left our ARBCA church for reasons of spiritual abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting... unlawfully using the Law to control people and activities and relationships, both within the church and in our own homes and fellowship (with other members of our own church, mind you) throughout the week. It was just one thing after another... for a LONG time.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I'm so sorry, Anonymous. Here's to justice, care for victims, and future brightness.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Isn't "independence" a potential problem?

Congregationalism aside, a plurality of elders does not help much in real life.

Most eldership candidates get elected to the elders' board based upon good interpersonal relationships between the candidate and the long serving elders. Try getting elected when one is in disagreement with the leadership, no matter how qualified one is!

There is a built-in immunity for those who are leaders in an independent church government.

This is what Singaporeans call "ownself check ownself."

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Vincit Omnia Veritas. They are intriguing.

Yesterday, Chantry received 24 years in prison, without parole.