CAMP VERDE -- After two days of deliberations, a jury has found a former pastor accused of multiple counts of child molestation and assault guilty on two of the aggravated assault charges. Jurors determined Thomas Chantry, 47, was not guilty of one child molestation charge and one aggravated assault charge.
The jury was still at a 9-3 impasse on four of the molestation charges at the time of the verdict at around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bradley Astrowsky declared a mistrial on those four charges.
The verdict concludes the five-week-long trial of the former Prescott pastor. Accusations by alleged victims include incidents where Chantry disciplined children of the families in his congregation at Miller Valley Baptist Church so severely he left bruises and marks. Some of the abuse later turned into molestation, according to witness testimony.
Yavapai County Deputy Attorney Susan Eazer called Chantry a “sick, twisted pedophile” last week in her closing rebuttal.
Eazer requested the court to change Chantry’s release conditions, citing the hung jury and new evidence she tried to introduce late into the trial.
The evidence concerned a 2004 Illinois police report detailing an incident where Chantry allegedly spanked a child at a school he was teaching at so hard he left bruises. The parents did not end up pursuing charges.
Judge Astrowsky did not allow the evidence into court as it was late into the trial. Judge Astrowsky also denied Eazer’s motion of changing Chantry’s release conditions.
Chantry remains out of custody. His sentencing hearing will be Friday, Sept. 28 at 9 a.m.
The first count of molestation concerned the first witness called to the stand during the trial. The 21-year-old man described being touched on the genitals by Chantry for about 10 minutes when he was around 4 years old.
“[Chantry] told me not to tell my parents,” he said.
During cross-examinations, Chantry’s defense attorney, John Sears challenged the witness on his recollection of events.
Chantry was found not guilty on this charge.
The four molestation charges concerned another alleged victim, who in an emotional testimony described incidents where Chantry would spank him and molest him during tutoring sessions. He said he remembers being 10 or 11 when the molestations took place.
He said after the spankings, he would try to rub his rear to sooth himself. He said Chantry would not allow him to comfort himself.
“I wasn’t allowed to do it because he gave me the pain,” he said. “He said it was OK for him to do it since he delivered the punishment.”
The man said Chantry would rub his bottom for several minutes and eventually start rubbing his genitals.
“He compared himself to the way God controls things,” he said. “He said disobeying him was disobeying God.”
The jury remained at a 9-3 impasse on these charges.
The two guilty charges involved other incidents where Chantry spanked children so severely he left marks and bruises.
The jury asked several questions during deliberations. One of which concerned the definition of “intent to assault.” The court told jurors to refer to their instructions.
Another question asked was whether or not bare-bottom spanking and rubbing of the bottom was considered sexual molestation.
The court agreed that it was not considered molestation under Arizona law.