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Prosecutors Will Not Seek Charges Against Pastor Caught in 2021 Sex Sting, Even Though Case Against Him Is ‘Sound’

John Blanchard
Screengrab via YouTube @Rock Church

No new sex crime charges will be brought against Virginia Beach pastor John Blanchard, despite prosecutors admitting that enough evidence exists to bring Blanchard to trial. This will apparently end a legal dispute that began shortly after Blanchard, along with 16 other men, was arrested in October 2021 during a sting operation conducted by the Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Unit.

Blanchard was charged with solicitation of prostitution from a minor after corresponding online with an officer posing as a teenage girl, with Blanchard allegedly setting up a time to meet for sex. 

Most of the other men who were arrested in the sting have been prosecuted. 

However, the charges against Blanchard were dropped in October 2022. In a defiant return to the pulpit in December 2022, Blanchard threatened to pursue legal action in an effort to recover his “good name,” adding that “particular organizations and individuals have made it very clear that they intend to destroy our church, my family, and this ministry.”

A public outcry followed Chesterfield County Commonwealth Attorney Stacey Davenport’s decision to drop the charges against Blanchard, including multiple protests outside of Rock Church International, where Blanchard continues to serve as senior pastor. 

In April, protester Jamie Thomas was even arrested after staging a demonstration in the church’s parking lot while the congregation held a worship service. 

Former Virginia State Delegate and lawyer Tim Anderson has said that “there’s no excuse not to prosecute this case…To use prosecutorial discretion and say nothing happened here, that’s, in my opinion, an abuse of discretion, especially when they went after 15 other people [following the sting operation].”

Chesterfield County Police Chief Jeffrey Katz also criticized Davenport, saying, “I believe a public articulation of her rationale is warranted. 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.”

Following the controversy, Davenport recused herself from the case and appointed 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.” She also unsealed the records pertaining to Blanchard’s case, a reversal of a decision made after Blanchard filed a motion for expungement.

That special prosecutor, Brunswick County Commonwealth Attorney Bill Blaine, has now filed a document with the court indicating that while the evidence gathered by police against Blanchard is “sound,” he does not consider it appropriate to re-file the case, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

The reasoning behind this determination is that Blanchard had honored “his half” of an “unwritten plea agreement,” which included the requirement that Blanchard submit to specialized counseling.