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Virginia Beach pastor John Blanchard's record expunged in Chesterfield County

Rock Church pastor, John Blanchard, was charged with solicitation of prostitution in October 2021, but prosecutors set aside the charges months later.

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — The final chapter in the criminal case against a pastor at Rock Church in Virginia Beach has closed.

In court Wednesday, a judge agreed to expunge John Blanchard's record, saying he "didn't have any other choice under the law" but to grant the request. William Blaine Jr., a Brunswick County prosecutor appointed as the special prosecutor in this case, did not object to the motion. 

Blanchard and his attorney, Noel Brooks, declined to comment as they exited the courthouse Wednesday. 

This decision comes nearly two years after Chesterfield County police arrested him for allegedly trying to meet with a teenage girl who turned out to be an undercover detective.

RELATED: A timeline of the case against Rock Church Pastor John Blanchard

Blanchard was arrested in October 2021 when the detective posed as a 17-year-old online and communicated through a chat system with the megachurch pastor. He was charged with solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to solicit prostitution after police said he showed up at a motel where they told him to meet. 

Months later, following several hearing delays, Chesterfield County prosecutors dismissed the charges. 

This led to an uproar of criticism against the Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney, Stacey Davenport. People from the community commented on social media, along with Chesterfield Police Chief Jeffrey Katz and Virginia Delegate Tim Anderson speaking out, calling the decision a poor move. 

In response to the media attention and public statements, a judge appointed William Blaine Jr. as the special prosecutor. 

In June 2023, Blaine submitted his official report, saying the additional evidence he was provided by the Chesterfield Police Department did not support charging Blanchard with the same offenses. 

In court documents obtained by 13News Now, Blaine called Chesterfield County police's investigation a "sound case."

Blaine said the "unwritten agreement" between the judge and attorneys called Blanchard to undergo specialized counseling in exchange for prosecutors dismiss the charges.

RELATED: Criminal charges will not be re-filed against Rock Church Pastor John Blanchard, special prosecutor says

Virginia Beach attorney and legal analyst, Ed Booth, said requests for expungements are common in cases where a defendant didn't go to trial or was found not guilty. He said grant just seals the records, making it so people cannot view the criminal documents without special permission.

"It's kind of like it never happened and that's true for everyone," Booth explained. "So that when that record is run later by an employer, by law enforcement, by whoever, the information is not there. That's what an expungement means really."

Rock Church leaders have never returned 13News Now's phone calls over the past two years. Each time, including after the expungement hearing, John Blanchard declined to comment on the nature of the proceedings. 

However, the long-time pastor took the podium at Rock Church in December 2022, calling the accusations against him "demonstrably false."

In an opinion letter filed in the court system, the Chesterfield Circuit Court judge who granted the expungement, said the case had, "grown into a convoluted proceeding involving social media trial of a Virginia Beach Pastor, rumors of misconduct by the Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney...and threat of civil litigation."

In the letter, the judge referenced Delegate Anderson's motion to intervene the expungement, which was denied. The same document stated that Blanchard requested sanctions against Delegate Anderson in the form of attorney's fees of $2,760, claiming Anderson filed, "pleadings that have no statutory or legal basis."

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