Trial begins this week for former Prescott pastor charged with child molestation
Rev. Thomas J. Chantry, charged with child molestation, will begin a 13-day trial at the Yavapai County Superior Court in Camp Verde Tuesday, July 24.
Chantry, 47, was indicted in Yavapai County Superior Court on eight counts – five counts of child molestation and three of aggravated assault – for offenses committed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he worked at the Miller Valley Baptist Church.
Chantry left the Prescott area over 10 years ago and was arrested in Wisconsin in July, 2016. He was working as a pastor in the town of Hale’s Corners at the time.
Chantry’s trial has been scheduled and cancelled on three occasions for varying reasons. The first was procedural as attorneys and judges were determined and additional time was needed to prepare for the case.
The second delay was because Chantry was diagnosed with a medical condition that he wished to take care of before possibly being imprisoned, according to court records. And the third was because a detective involved in the case was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and it was unclear whether or not the detective would be able to testify in court without exacerbating the serious condition.
Chantry’s attorney, John Sears, requested another continuance in early July because an expert witness for the defense was undergoing a medical procedure that would possibly prevent her from participating in the trial.
The prosecuting attorney with the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office, Susan Eazer, strongly opposed this continuance, saying the prosecution was completely prepared and providing several statements from alleged victims about how their rights as victims to a speedy trial in Arizona are being ignored.
“I feel it is unfair as a victim to have the longevity of this case drawn out even further by this request from the defense witness,” one victim wrote via email. “My mental and emotional stress has been on the brink of breaking from the prolonging of this case as it is.”
“I can’t express enough my on-going frustration that the defense counsel seems to bring an inconvenient situation to the table once again, and that this “procedure” would potentially bring another continuance forward,” another victim wrote via email.
After considering all of the information provided, the presiding judge for the case, Bradley Astrowsky, a visiting judge from the Maricopa County Superior Court, denied the defendant’s request for continuance.
The trial will, therefore, begin July 24 and continue through August 10. Though originally scheduled to take place at the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott, it was deemed necessary to host the trial at the superior court in Camp Verde. The proceedings will take place in the Division 7 courtroom (room 140).
“We didn’t have the space at the (Prescott) courthouse to handle a 3 week trial for a visiting judge,” said Yavapai County Superior Court Deputy Administrator Shelly Bacon.
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