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'A jury... deserves to weigh in' | Chesterfield police chief wants pastor's child sex solicitation case to go forward

"I believe a jury of Chesterfield County residents deserves to weigh in on the matter of criminal culpability," the chief wrote in a Facebook post.
Credit: Chesterfield County Police Department

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Chesterfield County Police Chief is speaking out after a Virginia Beach pastor accused of attempted solicitation of a minor filed a motion on to expunge his criminal records. 

Pastor John Blanchard was one of 17 people arrested as part of a two-day sting operation in October 2021, according to the Chesterfield County Police Department (CCPD). He was charged with felony solicitation of prostitution with underage people in Chesterfield.

But during a preliminary hearing in October 2022, the Chesterfield County prosecutor told a judge the case would be nolle prossed, meaning the charges were dropped for now. Still, they could be refiled later if prosecutors decide they have enough evidence against Blanchard to move forward. 

In light of the charges not moving forward, on Dec. 12, 2022, Blanchard's lawyer filed a motion to expunge his record. On Dec. 29, the Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney's Office stated in court records that it had "no objection" to the request.

RELATED: Newly obtained documents detail more about the night of Virginia Beach Rock Church pastor's arrest

As of last Thursday, the Chesterfield County Circuit Court Clerk said the expungement was not yet finalized. 

But that hasn't stopped the Chesterfield County Police Chief Col. Jeffrey Katz to take to social media on the matter and reinforce his "fervent support for the quality of the case [against Blanchard] and [the] investigative efforts of [his] staff."

In a January 10 Facebook post, Katz said Blanchard’s attorneys "made a motion to seal all police or court records, transcripts, and investigative records associated with this case."

He went on to say that the Commonwealth's Attorney gave support for the records to be sealed and unavailable to the public -- a decision Katz called "bewildering."

RELATED: 'A lie is still a lie': Virginia Beach pastor returns to pulpit after charges dropped for attempted solicitation of minor

He said that as part of the sting operation carried out by his department, Blanchard did the following:

  • Rented a car
  • Texted a phone number posted on a known sex worker website
  • Solicited a "qv" ("John" lingo for a "quick visit")
  • Made multiple inquiries if the person he was texting was “affiliated with law enforcement” 
  • Drove 2.5 hours to a hotel room and knocked on the hotel room door, as directed by an undercover officer who Blanchard believed to be a 17-year-old girl

"I believe a jury of Chesterfield County residents deserves to weigh in on the matter of criminal culpability," Katz wrote.

Katz cited several others who were convicted in the same investigation and said in some cases, less compelling evidence led to a conviction.

 " ... this is NOT due to a lack of evidence or a substandard investigation," Katz wrote. "We know what we are doing, we do it very well, and we will continue to proceed with such investigations in the future."

The police chief said the department hasn't been given any guidance from the Commonwealth's Attorney about where the investigation fell short to pursue prosecution. 

"While I disagree on the handling of this case ... we will move forward, unapologetic in our commitment to protect the vulnerable in our community," Katz wrote.

You can read the police chief's entire post below:


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