Jury selection begins in pastor molestation case

Amid safety concerns, defendant Thomas J. Chantry is escorted to his vehicle by law enforcement following Tuesday’s proceedings in his molestation trial in Yavapai County Superior Court. VVN/Vyto Starinakas

Amid safety concerns, defendant Thomas J. Chantry is escorted to his vehicle by law enforcement following Tuesday’s proceedings in his molestation trial in Yavapai County Superior Court. VVN/Vyto Starinakas

CAMP VERDE -- The trial of a former pastor charged with multiple counts of child molestation began jury selection Tuesday. The trial may last up to four weeks

Thomas J. Chantry appeared out of custody this week. Victim representatives were also present in the courtroom.

Chantry, 47, was indicted on five counts of child molestation and three aggravated assault charges. He is accused of committing these offenses more than 20 years ago while he worked as a pastor at Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott.

Chantry left Prescott 10 years ago and became a pastor in Wisconsin. He was arrested in 2016 and extradited back to Arizona. Since then, his trial has been rescheduled and canceled multiple times

Judge Bradley Astrowsky, a visiting judge from Maricopa County, is the presiding judge for the case.

Early stages of jury selection began Tuesday with pool of 133 potential jurors. The jurors will remain innominate throughout the trial.

Astrowski divided potential jurors into two groups to begin the selection process with a series of questions.

The subject of the questions included jurors relationship with law enforcement, experience with sexual assault and familiarity with the global reckoning known as the #MeToo movement, a hashtag spread on social media empowering victims of sexual assault and harassment to come forward with their stories.

Only one juror signaled unfamiliarity with the #MeToo movement.

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