Pastor guilty of physically abusing kids in Arizona accused of doing same in Arlington Heights

A Christian teacher and pastor convicted of aggravated assault for severely spanking children in Arizona was accused of doing the same at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights in 2004, though charges were never filed, authorities said.

Thomas Chantry, 48, will be sentenced Friday in Yavapai County, Arizona, after a jury there found him guilty last month of two counts of aggravated assault. Jurors found him not guilty of another count of aggravated assault and one count of child molestation, while they deadlocked on four other counts of child molestation.

Arizona prosecutors brought the charges against Chantry for events that took place more than 20 years ago while he was pastor at Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, before he took a teaching job at Christian Liberty Academy in 2002.

Authorities in Arizona two weeks ago brought nine new charges - four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of child molestation and one count of child abuse - against Chantry, stemming from allegations dating back to between 1998 and 2000.

A 2004 battery report filed with the Arlington Heights Police Department surfaced during Chantry's Arizona trial last month, as prosecutors tried to change Chantry's release conditions, The Verde Independent newspaper reported.

According to the July 16, 2004 police report, parents of a five-year-old boy who attended Christian Liberty came to police after Chantry spanked their son twice with a wooden paddle, leaving marks and redness. Though the parents were aware of a school policy permitting corporal punishment and signed an agreement to the policy, the father told police he believed the paddling was too hard.

The parents ultimately decided not to press charges.

Police Cmdr. Richard Sperando said Tuesday there were no additional reports taken against Chantry in Arlington Heights. According to the 2004 report, Chantry told police he paddled students fewer than a dozen times.

Philip Bennett, superintendent of the private pre-K-12 school, said Tuesday school officials were aware of spanking allegations involving Chantry when he was hired in 2002, but since no charges were filed, they were comfortable bringing him aboard.

Bennett, who called Chantry a model teacher and considers him a friend, said there were no formal accusations made against Chantry at Christian Liberty except the 2004 case.

But it was that complaint that Bennett said prompted him to end the school's long-standing practice of corporal punishment, in place since the school's 1968 founding.

"When the incident took place, I remember I said, 'Don't blame Tom, blame me, blame the school, because that's our policy,'" Bennett said.

Chantry, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at the school, continued teaching there until 2006, when he began preaching full time at Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. He was charged in Arizona in 2016.

Thomas Chantry Courtesy of The Verde Independent
Thomas Chantry
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.