CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Issuing a statement for the first time since November regarding the case against Virginia Beach pastor John Blanchard, Chesterfield County’s top prosecutor defended her decision to drop charges that he solicited an underage prostitute.
The decision to nolle prosequi was blasted by Chesterfield Police Chief Jeffrey Katz this week, who wrote in a statement, “I want to be clear; this is NOT due to a lack of evidence or a substandard investigation.”
But Stacey Davenport, Chesterfield’s elected commonwealth’s attorney, released a statement Friday for the first time since November, despite repeated attempts from 8News to contact her in recent months.
“The decision was based solely upon the law, the facts of the case, and the professional experience and ethical duties of the prosecutors,” she wrote. “Any assertion to the contrary is offensive to every prosecutor in this office and is patently false.”
Documents obtained and released by Delegate Tim Anderson (R – Virginia Beach), an attorney himself, detailed the investigation into Blanchard. He was one of 17 men caught in a sex sting by Chesterfield police in October of 2021. Undercover detectives said they used “well-known prostitution websites,” creating a profile where they posed as a prostitute.
“Once individuals started reaching out the profile [was] created, a chat was developed. Throughout that chat, an agreement was made for sexual services in exchange for money,” the police report noted. “Later in the chat, it was revealed that the UC was under 18 years of age.”
The documents released by Anderson, which included the original police report from Blanchard’s arrest, also showed the texts between Blanchard and the undercover operative posing as a 17-year-old.
During their exchange, the detective told Blanchard that she was 17, and asked him if he was “ready for this young tight kitty.”
“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 post.
Davenport did not specify what led to her decision to drop the charges, but did say that her office supported Blanchard’s motion to expunge his records, following accusations by Anderson that the decision might be the result of a conflict of interest.
“Every Petition for Expungement received by this office is evaluated and processed pursuant to the law, as was this petition,” Davenport wrote. “This office is not motivated by politics.”
Read the full text of Davenport’s statement below:
While it is clear that Delegate Tim Anderson wants to continue the public debate over the way the Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office handled the case of Commonwealth v. John Blanchard in 2022, moral outrage is no substitute for evidence, and this office stands by its decision to nolle prosequi the case. The decision was based solely upon the law, the facts of the case, and the professional experience and ethical duties of the prosecutors. Any assertion to the contrary is offensive to every prosecutor in this office and is patently false.
This office prosecuted over 10,000 cases in 2022, so it is inevitable that our office and the Chesterfield Police Department will occasionally disagree on the strengths and weaknesses of individual cases. However, my staff and I take great pride in always discussing those disagreements privately and not allowing them to affect our working relationship. While it is the responsibility of the Chesterfield Police Department to investigate cases, it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to determine whether there is an appropriate avenue for successful prosecution.
The Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office takes great exception to the attempted politicization of this case by Del. Anderson. Any claim that this office is using the Defendant’s Petition for Expungement to “silence any political opponents from using published police records” is unwarranted and without merit. Contrary to Del. Anderson’s assertion, there exists no “political advantage” for the Commonwealth’s Attorney in this or any other expungement process. Every Petition for Expungement received by this office is evaluated and processed pursuant to the law, as was this petition. This office is not motivated by politics. Our only motivation is ensuring public safety while upholding the Constitution of the United States.Stacey Davenport’s public statement on the Blanchard case
8News called Davenport’s office again on Friday, but was told that both the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the office’s spokesperson were unavailable.
Del. Anderson took to social media to share his response to Davenport’s statement, referring back to Katz’s statement from earlier in the week about there not being a lack of evidence in the case against Blanchard. As 8News previously reported, defendants in 13 of the other cases from this October 2021 operation were found guilty, and some even served jail time.
Highlighting political corruption is not politics. It’s called accountability.
The best thing Stacey Davenport can do is resign. She is an embarrassment to the legal community and an absolute disgrace to the office she holds.
When I make promises — I keep them. Here is my promise to the citizens of Va. Beach and Chesterfield — I am not letting go of this until justice is served.Del. Anderson’s social media response to Davenport’s public statement