This walk-through focuses on Rich Jensen and his involvement with ARBCA and Tom Chantry. He is pastor of Hope Reformed Baptist Church in Coram, NY.
#1 Rich Jensen, ARBCA & Timeline of Events
This document is an abbreviated version of the ARBCA & Timeline of Events timeline specific to Rich Jensen regarding what we can ascertain from the currently available documentation.
#2 David Dykstra’s Instructions for the IC (12/6/2000)
This is David Dykstra’s Instructions for the Informal Council [Mike McKnight, Tedd Tripp, and Rich Jensen].
“Bob Selph asked if I would write to provide some guidance for your scheduled trip to Arizona next week. He did so because the membership committee of our association has a part of its responsibilities, the duty of making sure that member churches comply with the standards of the association, namely our Confession of Faith and Constitution.” [David Dykstra Letter, first paragraph]
“I believe that your goals should be to: (1) Find out the facts through careful interviews, (2) Make recommendations to the parties involved, and (3) Summarize your findings and recommendations in a written document you all can sign.” [David Dykstra Letter, fourth paragraph]
“Hopefully the honor of Miller Valley’s elders will be maintained and Tom will be able to have a future in the ministry.” [David Dykstra Letter, last paragraph]
#3 MVBC Timeline, Special Meeting Minutes, & Letters to/from Walt Chantry (11 & 12/2000)
This document contains the MVBC Timeline, Special Meeting Minutes, and letters to and from Walt Chantry. These all give a good idea what happened prior to the Informal Council’s formation. I have included a transcript of Walt Chantry’s handwritten letter for easier reading. Rich Jensen was on the Informal Council and the Complete Report Distribution List, so he received a copy of the MVBC timeline and the letters to/from Walt Chantry.
“Several of our children have been ‘mistreated’…Legally, what Tom did would be considered child abuse and could be subject to prosecution.” [Letter from MVBC to Walt Chantry page 3, paragraph 1]
#4 Letters from the Parents & One of the Victims (11/2000 & 12/2000)
These are letters that were written by the parents and one of the children for the members of the Informal Council sent by ARBCA. They do not contain accusations of molestation, but they do contain many red flags for molestation. Rich Jensen was on the Informal Council and the Complete Report Distribution List, so he received a copy of the letters from the parents and victim.
“Tom would regularly threaten M with spankings and actually spank him if his work wasn’t perfect, even to the point of having him do his catechisms over Tom’s knee with a swat at the end for each mistake without telling him what the mistakes were and then repeating the process. The private classes ended after M spent the night with Tom as a favor to us. During the night M said afterward that Tom spanked him bare bottomed (with his underpants pulled down) for what M said was no reason at all. The aforementioned events came to light after L and I found out about the bare bottomed spanking.” [Letter from LJ (first letter – father) page 3, paragraph 2]
“It certainly appears that I have been deceived for years by a very convincing liar.” [Letter from LJ (first letter – father) page 3, last paragraph]
“Tom is a bold face liar who can and has manipulated situations to take full advantage of innocent people and children. He has misused his office as Pastor and the trust and authority that comes with it for his own twisted pleasure” [Letter from LJ (second letter – mother) page 1, last paragraph]
“Sometime in August of this year, Tom called and asked if he could spend the night because he had an appointment very early the next day in Phoenix. When he came, he told us that he was applying with as a foster child advocate with the state. This meant that he would have contact with foster children one on one to see how they were doing and report back to the state on their behalf. We assumed that Rich and Shorty knew about this and were somehow involved. According to Rich, he had only found out about this right before Tom resigned. With the four children that Tom assumed authority over and spanked inappropriately, and now putting himself in a position of authority over foster children is extremely frightening to me. I do not know his motive behind this, but I can’t help but think with his secretness with the elder and his actions with the church children he was again setting the circumstances to be able to abuse more innocent children.” [Letter from LJ (second letter – mother) page 4, last paragraph]
“After the second spanking, Chantry made me sit on his lap. There he explained that I could not try to relieve the pain, but he could if he chose to, and he always did. Yes, that does mean he rubbed my ass after spanking me.” [Letter from MJ page 3, paragraph 2]
“After the movie, Chantry’s true intentions revealed themselves. He had constructed two new paddles just for the occasion that he was just waiting to try out. First he made me stand up and bend over and grab my feet while he spanked me with his paddles. He claimed that he was punishing me for the sins that I had committed but had not been caught. Things went from bad to worse. I will say this clearly so that nobody will be able to misunderstand me. He took my pants off and bent me over his knee while he spanked me with his paddle. He told me that he wanted to see my buttocks turn red while he spanked me. There was nothing between his paddle and me.” [Letter from MJ page 5, paragraph 3]
“Thomas Chantry is a sick, twisted monster who used his position as pastor of the church to manipulate my trust in him and my parent’s trust in him.” [Letter from MJ page 4, last 2 paragraphs]
“Tom proceeded to that D into his bedroom, have him pull his pants and underwear down around his ankles, put his head into a pillow so Tom (or anyone else for that matter) couldn’t hear D if he cried out. He then began to spank D ten times with a large, thick board. I tried to keep calm in from of D that evening, but I did ask him if I could see where he was spanked. D said o.k. and showed me his bottom and thighs. He had severe bruises that were dark purple across his bottom about 4 inches wide- also 4 inches across his upper thighs on both legs. It was no wonder he could hardly walk.” [Letter from CSL page 1, paragraph 4]
“I was also troubled by the fact that D would have to pick with what “instrument” he wanted to be spanked with. He had his choice of a wiffle ball bat, a switch from the bush in Tom’s yard or the board. If he picked something like the wiffle ball bat, which he said didn’t hurt as much, he would get more swats. Even during the weeks that he had completed all his assignments there were sometimes ‘play spankings’.” [Letter from CSL page 2, first paragraph]
“Tom got angry because W didn’t come immediately, so W got spanked in Tom’s office. Also, that D was spanked in front of them as well as him being there when they were spanked. J told us that she cried out loud so hard in hopes someone would hear her the day she was spanked. Tom repeatedly threatened J, W, and D with an oar, a ruler, and his hand after telling me that he wouldn’t spank our children or any others. Our children told us his anger was terrible and scary.” [Letter from T and P W page 3, paragraph 4]
#5 Tom Chantry’s Letter for the Informal Council (12/2000)
This letter was written by Tom Chantry for the Informal Council. Rich Jensen was on the Informal Council and the Complete Report Distribution List, so he received a copy of Tom Chantry’s letter for the IC.
#6 Informal Council’s Level 1 Report, Parent Recommendations, & Distribution List (12/16/2000)
This document contains the Informal Council’s Level 1 Report, the Parent Recommendations, AC Report Part 2 Page 13, and the Complete Report Distribution List. Rich Jensen was on the Informal Council and the Complete Report Distribution List, so he was one of the men who wrote and received a copy of the Level 1 Report.
Level 1 Report
“Each of the children made very credible answers to our questions…All members of the Informal Council were deeply moved by the words and the injured expressions of the children. We do not believe that they had been influenced by parents, other adults, elders, or even one another.” [Level 1 Report page 2, paragraphs 1 and 2]
“Tom Chantry did admit to inappropriate spanking of all four children. Some of the spankings involved the use of one or more paddles which Thomas Chantry obtained for his use during the tutorial sessions with these children.” [Level 1 Report page 2, paragraph 4]
“Taken in its entirety, the question must be raised, did Thomas Chantry use this method of punishment for his own pleasure?” [Level 1 Report page 2, paragraph 5]
“…the Elders who assume oversight of him should consider the possibility that on some level he punished children for his own pleasure.” [Level 1 Report page 4, paragraph 3]
“…we do believe that the seriousness of the allegations against Tom, the inconsistencies between the accounts of the spankings and the apparent lack of complete repentance would certainly prohibit any return to the ministry until these issues are resolved by Tom and his Elders [Tom Lyon].” [Level 1 Report page 4, paragraph 5]
“This Complete Report contained copies of the Level 1 Report, including the separate recommendations to each family involved; the Level 2 Report, the Level 3 Report; and ‘statements from Mr. Chantry, the parents, and one of the children; the letters that had been exchanged between MVBC elders and Mr. Walt Chantry; and a timeline of events.’” [Part II Report page 13, last paragraph]
#7 Informal Council’s Level 2 Report (12/16/2000)
This is the Informal Council’s Level 2 Report (aka “middle level” report). Rich Jensen was on the Informal Council and the Complete Report Distribution List, so he was one of the men who wrote and received a copy of the Level 2 Report.
“That during his ministry at Miller Valley Baptist Church, Thomas Chantry did volunteer to tutor four children from three separate church families. Each child was subjected to inappropriate physical discipline in the course of their instruction.” [Page 1, last paragraph]
“That there still remain serious factual differences between Thomas Chantry and the four children he disciplined during his ministry at Miller Valley. These factual differences include the purpose, frequency and severity of the physical punishment. It is recommended that the Elders who assume the oversight of Thomas Chantry [Tom Lyon and Mark McCormick] address these differences because it is the opinion of this informal council that his repentance may not be complete.” [Page 3, item 7]
“That Thomas Chantry endeavor to seek full repentance from each of the four children and their parents who have been the subject of physical discipline by him. It is recommended that the Elders who assume the oversight of Tom Chantry [Tom Lyon and Mark McCormick] assist him with this process.” [Page 3, item 8]
#8 Informal Council’s Level 3 Report (12/16/2000) & Confidential Minutes (1/4/2001)
This is the report that the 2000/2001 AC sent to the ARBCA member churches in early 2001 and the Confidential Minutes that identify it. There is no mention of the children or the violence they suffered at the hands of Thomas Chantry. Rich Jensen was on the Informal Council, so he was one of the men who wrote the Level 3 Report.
#9 Report Written by Don Lindblad for Earl Blackburn (4/15/2002)
This document is a report Don Lindblad wrote for Earl Blackburn regarding the Informal Council [Mike McKnight, Tedd Tripp, and Rich Jensen] and the page from AC Report Part 2 that quotes it, identifying it as “Private Document 16.” Earl Blackburn included a copy of this report in a letter he wrote to Rich Jensen.
“When I raised the issue again of Tom not being permitted to speak, which was the fourth time I had raised the question in three days, all three assented to the following: they could not allow Tom to speak because if they did he would have incriminated himself. Once that happened they would not have been able to give him back his life in the way that they had. They would be forced to deal with him differently.” [page 4, paragraph 4]
“Instead of pressing for some form of church discipline or civil charges, they told us they wanted to give Tom back his life. They believed he had not been forthcoming, that he was far guiltier than what he was willing to admit, but they also believed he was a gifted young man and should return to the ministry someday.” [page 3, paragraph 3]
“Mike wanted to hear what Tom had to say about the various incidents, but that he should be cautious in responding because the investigators believed entirely what the children had told them.” [page 2, paragraph 1]
#10 Letter from Earl Blackburn to Rich Jensen, Mike McKnight, and Tedd Tripp (4/18/2002)
This document is a letter written by Earl Blackburn to the members of the Informal Council (Rich Jensen, Mike McKnight, and Tedd Tripp). It discusses Earl Blackburn’s belief that Tom Chantry had been wronged by the IC and cites the “Report Written by Don Lindblad for Earl Blackburn dated 4/15/2002” multiple times.
“…you sought to be generous and kind to Tom Chantry by giving him an opportunity to deal with matters and, hopefully, in time, reenter the ministry.” [Page 1, 2nd paragraph]
“I asked him [Don Lindblad] then, and later followed up that request with a phone call to write a report of the meeting and send it to me. I have enclosed for each of you a copy of that report.” [Page 1, 3rd paragraph]
“What you told me and what he [Don Lindblad] wrote do not match up…In other words, brothers, I believe his written report.” [Page 1, 3rd paragraph]
“Just as I predicted, serious and unsettling ramifications have followed the Arizona meetings. Pastor Walt Chantry is very bothered that his son was not given a full and fair hearing, so much so that he has stated to me via letter that he will never have anything to do with ARBCA again. Also, your refusal to allow Tom Chantry to fully address all of his concerns has caused prolonged problems in the Carlisle Eldership. This does not include a number of other ARBCA pastors who have heard and are concerned about your refusal.” [Page 2, 4th paragraph]
“One, prayerful search your hearts and if you believe that Don is correct in his report and that you were wrong, then admit it to yourself and each other. Two, individually write a letter to Tom Chantry acknowledging your wrong in this particular matter and ask his forgiveness. Three, do the same with Pastor Walt Chantry.” [Page 3, 1st paragraph]
#11 Letter from Tedd Tripp to Earl Blackburn (8/26/2002)
This document is a letter written by Tedd Tripp to Earl Blackburn in response to the “Letter from Earl Blackburn to Rich Jensen, Mike McKnight, and Tedd Tripp dated 4/18/2002.” It was also distributed to “the other members of the Informal Council” (Rich Jensen and Mike McKnight).
“The claim, that we were unfair to Tom Chantry is an essential part of his ‘smoke and mirrors’ strategy to avoid acceptance responsibility for his actions. Sadly, you, Don and Walt have fallen for it and thus fallen into Tom Chantry’s clever attempt to make himself the aggrieved party.” [Page 1, 2nd paragraph]
“It is my belief that had that [calling for a formal council] been done, Tom Chantry would have been found guilty and formal legal charges would have been filed by the parents of some of the abused children. There is no doubt in my mind that Tom Chantry would have been found guilty in a legal proceeding and may even be in jail today.” [Page 1, 4th paragraph]
“…Walter Chantry should be filled with gratitude for what we did for his son.” [Page 2, 1st paragraph]
“None of Tom Chantry’s counter-charges against the elders in Prescott mitigated the matter we addressed, namely Tom Chantry’s abuse of the children in the church. It had no bearing on the things Tom Chantry had done, but was just part of the ‘smoke and mirrors’ strategy. It was a brilliant strategy; it worked with you.” [Page 2, 4th paragraph]
“You should have called for a formal council. If you had I do not believe that Tom Chantry would be teaching children today or teaching an Adult Sunday School in an Association church. Ironically, Tom Chantry had managed to be out of legal jeopardy through the process we established and in a position to rehabilitate himself…” [Page 2, 5th paragraph]
“Tom Chantry’s strategy was to throw enough dust in the air by charging the elders in Prescott with their failings so that the matter would be an issue of disagreement between elders. Tom Chantry, a trusted pastor, abused children in the Prescott church. It would have been ludicrous for us to investigate whether the elders had followed every point of the church’s constitution in dealing with their pastor when the real issue was the pastor’s abuse of children. We did not cooperate with Tom Chantry’s attempt to divert the focus away from his action and the fall out of those actions, to the matters of procedure and process with the elders.” [Page 3, 2nd paragraph]
“…I wish we had torn up the document recommended a formal council and gone home. I firmly believe that the result would have been legal action taken against Tom Chantry for abuse of the children.” [Page 4, 1st paragraph]
#12 Letter from Rich Jensen to Earl Blackburn (1/21/2003)
This document is a letter written by Rich Jensen to Earl Blackburn in response to the “Letter from Earl Blackburn to Rich Jensen, Mike McKnight, and Tedd Tripp dated 4/18/2002.”
“It was very clear that Tom Chantry wanted to steer the investigation of the Informal Council away from his culpability for possible crimes and shift it to the deteriorating relationship with the Elders. I want to say this in the strongest possible language. The council was well aware of what Tom was trying to do and would not allow it.” [Page 2, 1st paragraph]
“But any such discussion [about MVBC elders] had no bearing on his actions with the children in question. It was at that time that Tom made the statement, ‘Then it doesn’t matter anymore.’ This statement confirmed our suspicions that Tom was trying to cloud the issue with his complaints against the Elders of Miller Valley.” [Page 2, 3rd paragraph; page 4, 1st paragraph]
“Tom was pleased with the outcome of the investigation but was not pleased that he was unable to pull the wool over our eyes. And he has used Don, his father, and you to do harm to the body of Christ in general and to our association in particular.” [Page 3, 3rd paragraph]
“You state that Don called you during the investigation to insist on certain things. You told him to phone Tedd and plead with him. You also warned him of your concerns of ‘serious and unsettling ramifications.’ I find this behavior highly irregular and questionable.” [Page 3, 2nd paragraph]
“I find his [Tom’s] actions reprehensible and his attempts to mask his culpability equally distasteful and sinful.” [Page 4, 2nd paragraph]
“This whole matter has left a very bad taste in mouth [sic]. I believe it speaks very badly for ARBCA and some of its members…How did they hear about the actions and why?…If someone has a bad opinion of me based upon rumors and gossip and never comes to me personally, I can do nothing about it.” [Page 4, 5th paragraph]
“I do not believe that Tom has complied with either the letter or the spirit of the document he signed. Instead he has sown seeds of discord among the churches. And Don, though I do not believe he acted maliciously, has done the same.” [Page 5, 2nd paragraph]
#13 Email from Don Lindblad to Steve Marquedant titled “A Possible Approach to MVBC” dated 9/4/2015
“Tom fulfilled the requirements of what he signed TO THE SATISFACTION OF ALL EXCEPT MVBC. (Rich Jensen did object, but Earl and I responded and nothing more was said.)” [Third paragraph]
#14 ARBCA Announcement (4/2017)
This is the statement ARBCA released at the 2017 General Assembly. It has been said that the men who wrote this statement simply didn’t know that what they wrote was untrue. However, many of the men on the Administrative Council responsible for writing this statement had access to information that contradicts this statement. Rich Jensen: As a member of the Informal Council, he had access to everything. As a former homicide detective, he should have known full well that he was a mandatory reporter. He also should have recognized the red flags indicative of molestation. He left ARBCA in 2019.
#15 Pre-trial Testimony by Harriet Edson and Connie A. Laver (5/5/2017)
This document is pre-trial testimony given by Harriet Edson and Connie A. Laver (mothers of victims Joseph Edson and Daniel Laver). Names of the victims redacted or changed to pseudonyms.
Q (SEARS): Okay. And you didn’t go to the police. Somebody beat your child so severely that it left
bruises and blisters, you say, blisters?
A (C L): Yes.
Q (SEARS): Okay. And you didn’t go to the police?
A (C L): I should have.
Q (SEARS): And you didn’t go to the police?
A (C L): I should have. I did not. I thought we could handle it internally within the church.
Q (SEAR: Okay.
A (C L): We were promised he would never pastor again.
Q (SEARS): Well, that promise is no where in writing, is it?
A (C L): I guess not, but I never saw the final document. I, to this day, have not seen the final
document. [page 35, lines 9-22]
#16 Transcript of Day 7 of the First Trial (8/2/2018)
This is a transcript of Day 7 of Tom Chantry’s first trial (8/2/2018). Some quotes of interest (names of the victims redacted or changed to pseudonyms):
Q (Eazer): After the church council came back and spoke to – we heard that they spoke to the children, some of the parents, other members of the congregation. Do you remember any of the families being told that Tom Chantry was not going to be pastoring again?
A (Howe): During this process?
Q (Eazer): During or at the end of it.
A (Howe): At the end. Yes. I think at the conclusion it was made clear from the council that that would be their recommendation.
Q (Eazer): Do you think the families were assured that the defendant wasn’t going to be a pastor anywhere in the future?
A (Howe): Yes.
Q (Eazer): And did that seem to be something that they wanted assurance for?
A (Howe): Yes. [page 88, lines 1-17]
Q (Eazer): After the church council and this formal investigation was done, were you left with the sense that Tom Chantry wasn’t going to be a pastor anymore?
A (Connie S Laver): Yes. [page 227, lines 8-11]
Q (Eazer): Was it your belief that he wasn’t going to be a pastor anywhere?
A (Owens): Yes.
Q (Eazer): Do you believe that that belief was extended to the parents or they were given some assurances that that wasn’t likely going to happen?
A (Owens): I believe that. [page 257, lines 2-8]
#17 Transcript of Day 8 of the First Trial (8/8/2018)
This is a transcript of Day 8 of Tom Chantry’s first trial (8/8/2018). Some quotes of interest (names of the victims redacted or changed to pseudonyms):
Q (Eazer): Okay, but I guess what I was getting to is were you and your wife assured that he was not going to be pastoring any further?
A (Tyler Walsh): Yes. [page 177, lines 6-9]
Q (Eazer): All right. Was there much discussion at the time about whether or not anyone would make a report to the police if you recall?
A (Tyler Walsh): There was – basically there was discussion if we did see that we needed to go to the police, that we could, but that they would handle this as a church matter and if we were good with that, that’s how they would like to handle it. [page 177, lines 10-17]
#18 Hope Reformed Baptist Church in Coram, NY Resignation (2/1/2019)
This document is the resignation of Hope Reformed Baptist Church in Coram, NY; Pastor Rich Jensen.
#19 Transcript of Tom Chantry’s Sentencing (7/19/2019)
This is the transcript from Tom Chantry’s sentencing on 7/19/2019. Some quotes of interest; all are Judge Astrowsky addressing Tom Chantry:
“The church council was ill-equipped to do this type of investigation. They should have involved the police at that time, as should have others. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur.” [Page 68, lines 2-5]
“The defendant took advantage of his position of trust and authority. He used his role as pastor – he knew that Mark came from a strict religious family — to convince the child that he deserved the abuse; it was God’s will and the child would suffer eternally if he resisted and/or told anyone. The defendant manipulated the victim’s parents so that he could be alone with the child.” [Page 73, lines 8-15]
#20 First Baptist Church of Clinton, LA Resignation (9/27/2019)
This document is the resignation that First Baptist Church of Clinton, LA posted on their website (http://fbcclintonla.com/about-arbca.html). It contains their list of charges and Timeline of Actions Taken by FBC to Address ARBCA’s Mishandling of the Tom Chantry Matter.
“1. In 2000 and beyond, ARBCA’s officials failed to protect the children abused by Tom Chantry and failed to aid them in obtaining the justice due to them (Ps 103:6). In 2019, ARBCA’s GA failed to reach out to those abused by Tom Chantry, to acknowledge the wrongdoing of the ARBCA council, to ask forgiveness from the victims, and to seek to make amends in any way possible (2 Sam 21:3; Lk 19:8).”
“2. Recently discovered documents in July of 2019 prove that ARBCA’s 2000 Informal Council knew of Tom Chantry’s child abuse and failed to report it to law enforcement (Rom 13:1). This failure to report to the authorities had the effect of exposing more children to danger and denying justice to Chantry’s victims (Ps 82:3-4; Is 1:17).”
“3. ARBCA’s 2000 Informal Council failed to recommend that Miller Valley Baptist Church discipline Tom Chantry, which is what the Scriptures require (Matt 18:15-20), and instead resorted to a biased and unbiblical program of restoration so that Chantry’s ministry could be preserved (1 Tim 5:20-21).”
“4. The formation of the 2000 ARBCA Informal Council by Walt Chantry, Bob Selph, and ARBCA’s 2000 Administrative Council was both unbiblical and contrary to ARBCA’s confession of faith, which does not permit “informal councils” (Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22-25; 2LCF 26.15).”
“5. The allowance of “sealed reports” facilitated the cover-up of a crime. Sealed reports from an ARBCA council are a violation of Scripture and ARBCA’s confession of faith, which requires that all advice given by church councils “be reported to all the churches” (Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22-25; 2LCF 26.15).”
Informal Council Members: Mike McKnight, Tedd Tripp, and Rich Jensen.