Hales Corners — A pastor at Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Hales Corners has been accused of child molestation and assault of a child connected to his time working as a pastor in Prescott, Arizona, more than 10 years ago.
Thomas Chantry, 46, is charged with five counts of molestation of a child and two counts of aggravated assault, according to a felony complaint filed with the Prescott Justice Court in Arizona. These charges are associated with incidents spanning from 1995 to 2001, during which time Chantry worked at Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott.
In an offense report from the Prescott Police Department, one alleged victim reported that shortly after Chantry became a pastor, he asked the victim's parents if he could tutor their son, to which the parents agreed. The victim claimed that during these tutoring sessions, Chantry would spank him, "grope him, rub him, and make him sit on his lap," the report said.
The victim also claimed in the report that once while he was staying overnight at Chantry's house, Chantry started spanking him and made him take off his pants. The report stated that "Chantry began fondling him," "touching his butt and genitals," and told him he was "making them feel better."
The victim, then 9 or 10 years old, claimed that the spanking and touching continued for about six to seven months and that Chantry told him he was "not to tell anyone at the church about his special lessons because he would not be able to teach everyone."
Another alleged victim claimed, according to a separate report, that Chantry spanked her and her brother "a lot harder than they had ever been spanked before." The report also said, "she stated that there was not only physical abuse, but a lot of mental abuse. She stated that when Chantry would hit them he would tell them not to tell because God would be mad at them."
According to a police report filed in January 2016, an elder of the church reported that Chantry had, during a private meeting, admitted to spanking some kids at the church and said that "maybe he had taken it too far." He added that Chantry apologized to one of the families and left the town a few days after.
Once Chantry left, the same report said, "more allegations from other victims was (sic) revealed." The elder said that a committee of church association members investigated the claims, which included interviewing every adult and child at the church about their contact with Chantry.
After the church investigation, the elder said in the report that other elders, parents, and other church members were "not happy with the end result." He added that the church association told parents about their options, including reporting the incidents to law enforcement; however, it seems that no families contacted the police at that time.
The first report of these incidents to law enforcement, according to police records, was not until July 2015.
Chantry was arrested in Wisconsin on July 25 of this year, according to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office. Court records say he was released on Aug. 10 after posting a cash bond of $100,000.
A hearing regarding the conditions of his release from custody was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Arizona, but as the judge assigned to the case recused herself, the hearing will be rescheduled with another county judge, according to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office.
The attorney representing and handling Chantry's case, John Sears, had no comment on the case.
According to the Christ Reformed Baptist Church website, Chantry is currently taking a leave of absence from the church. The bio page says that Chantry previously worked at a Christian school in the Chicago area and started preaching at the church in Hales Corners in 2005. The year after, he moved to the Milwaukee area to preach full time.
No one at the church has been available for further comment.
Chris Marley, the current pastor at Miller Valley Baptist Church, posted a statement about the case online Dec. 7, saying, "Tom has not been here for 16 years. I’ve only been serving here for seven, and my associate pastor has been here for 12. We have no real involvement with him, but we have cooperated with the police in the course of the investigation. When evidence came forward, we urged that it be taken to the police (as is required by law). There is only one family still connected to our church that is involved in the case, and the rest have left before all of this came to light for unrelated reasons."