A police chief in Virginia is criticizing the office of the Chesterfield Commonwealth Attorney for dropping charges against a megachurch pastor arrested in 2021 in a prostitution sting.
Chesterfield County Police Chief Jeffrey S. Katz said last week that Chesterfield Commonwealth Attorney Stacey Davenport’s handling of the charges against John D. Blanchard, pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia Beach, was “bewildering.”
“When someone: 1. Rents a car, 2. Texts a phone number posted on a known sex worker website, 3. Solicits a ‘qv’ (‘John’ lingo for a ‘quick visit’), 4. Makes multiple inquiries if the person he’s texting is ‘affiliated with law enforcement,’ 5. Drives two and a half hours to a hotel and knocks on the hotel room door – as directed by our undercover ‘17-year-old,’ I believe a jury of Chesterfield County residents deserves to weigh in on the matter of criminal culpability,” Katz wrote in his statement.
According to The Roys Report, Blanchard was arrested during a sting operation in October 2021. During the operation, an officer posed online as a teenage girl offering sex at a nearby motel. Blanchard and 16 other men were arrested for “soliciting sex from minors.”
However, the charges against Blanchard were dropped last year, citing a “lack of evidence.”
Blanchard has asked that his record be expunged, a request that Davenport’s office has not denied.
But Katz said Davenport did not ask the police for more evidence.
“As I have shared with our Commonwealth’s Attorney, I believe a public articulation of her rationale is warranted,” Katz said. “Absent a reasonable explanation, any discontent associated with the handling of this case should be directed to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. We did our duty.”
Meanwhile, state delegate Tim Anderson has filed a motion to intervene in Blanchard’s request for expungement. That hearing is set for March 21.
Anderson called the expungement consideration “a race to seal and erase the records that I have never seen happen in 24 years of practicing law.”
“Now (Blanchard) is back in my community, in the pulpit of a megachurch, claiming ‘innocence,’” Anderson added.
A Chesterfield County prosecutor, who is challenging Davenport’s seat, called Davenport’s “lack of evidence” reasoning a “flimsy excuse.”
“From what has been publicized, there is no reason this case could not have gone forward,” Erin Barr wrote in her statement.
Davenport’s office nor The Rock Church have commented on the situation.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/FabrikaCr
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.