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Group speaks out on alleged church sex abuse case

Thomas Jonathan Chantry

Thomas Jonathan Chantry

A national advocacy group, pushing to find more alleged victims of abuse at the hands of Rev. Thomas Chantry, called out the current leader of the suspect’s Prescott church for “distancing himself” from the issue.

However, Pastor Chris J. Marley, Miller Valley Baptist Church, says his church strives to minister to the alleged victims and has a stringent background check now in place.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a news release Wednesday, Dec. 7. “These churches (in Arizona and Wisconsin) gave Chantry access to kids. So their civic and moral duty doesn’t end with his arrest. They must help put him behind bars and help ameliorate the severe harm he’s caused.”

Clohessy said that “one minister essentially distanced himself, basically saying, ‘Hey, I wasn’t around when he was here,’” referring to Marley.

In an email to the Daily Courier, Marley wrote, “I can tell you that everyone at our church who was here that far back is well aware of the situation and that we have been striving to minister to those who have come to us as victims. We also have a background check policy for all who are involved in children’s ministry that exceeds standard legal requirements.”

Chantry was indicted in Yavapai County Superior Court on eight counts – five counts of child molestation and three of aggravated assault – for offenses allegedly 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. He was working as a pastor in the town of Hale’s Corners at the time. It is unknown if he is still employed as calls to the church have been returned.

The advocacy group is asking churches where Chantry has worked to “use pulpit announcements, bulletin notices and church mailings to help law enforcement prosecute Rev. Chantry and seek out – and help – others he may have hurt.”

Chantry’s attorney, John Sears has said he would have no comment on the case and has advised Chan-try to make no comment.

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