The Chesterfield County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has changed course and moved to unseal documents in the case involving John Blanchard, the Virginia pastor who was arrested in a sex sting operation in 2021. The decision comes several days after emails were published revealing more information about why the attorney’s office dropped the charges in 2022 and shedding light on new evidence that has emerged in the case.
“While this new [evidence] doesn’t change a single word uttered or activities undertaken by anyone on the day of our investigation, it incontrovertibly validates our assertions that Blanchard knowingly sought to engage in sex with an underage girl in a Chesterfield County hotel room on the day of his arrest,” writes Chesterfield County Police Chief Jeffery Katz in a Jan. 17 email to Chesterfield County Commonwealth Attorney Stacey Davenport. “Since children cannot rent hotel rooms, it is reasonable to conclude that Blanchard was, at minimum, indifferent to the reality that the person with whom he had been texting was not a prostitute but rather a child victim of human sex trafficking. A felony.”
John Blanchard Case Has New Developments
John Blanchard is lead pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia Beach. He was one of 17 men arrested on Oct. 29, 2021, for solicitation of prostitution from a minor. The pastor appeared on stage at his church a mere two days after his arrest.
At the time, the church posted a statement, saying, “Pastor Blanchard has voluntarily stepped back as lead pastor and from all his ministerial duties until this present situation is totally resolved.” The Rock Church has been supportive of Blanchard, who, along with his wife Robin, remains listed as a pastor at Rock Church on the church’s website as of this writing.
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In October 2022, all charges against Blanchard were dropped, a decision that state delegate and attorney Tim Anderson has repeatedly criticized. Over time, Katz has grown vocal in questioning why Davenport chose to drop the case. Davenport has said that the reason why her office has not pursued the case is because there is insufficient evidence.
In December, Blanchard filed a motion to expunge the records related to his case, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office agreed. “I have recently learned that Mr. Blanchard’s defense counsel made a motion to seal all police or court records, transcripts, and investigative records associated with this case,” said Katz in a Jan. 10 Facebook post. The police chief said he found the fact that Davenport had no objection “bewildering.”
Davenport responded to criticism of her office, saying, “The decision [to drop Blanchard’s charges] was based solely upon the law, the facts of the case, and the professional experience and ethical duties of the prosecutors.” She added, “Any assertion to the contrary is offensive to every prosecutor in this office and is patently false.”
At a press conference on Jan. 19, Davenport announced that she was recusing herself from the case against Blanchard and appointing a special prosecutor “due to the repeated public comments and unfounded political attacks levied upon my office by both Chesterfield County Police Chief Jeffery Katz and Delegate Tim Anderson.”
On Friday, Feb. 3, Anderson released emails he obtained from the Chesterfield Police through the Freedom of Information Act. The emails show that Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Alexander Michev said the reason the case was nolle prossed (i.e., prosecutors decided not to pursue it) was “the defense attorney has had some conversations with Stacey [Davenport]” and they had decided to have Blanchard undergo psychosexual evaluation, as well as sex offender-related counseling.