CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — All charges were dropped on Tuesday morning by the prosecution against John Blanchard, the Virginia Beach pastor who was arrested last October for felony solicitation of prostitution with underage people in Chesterfield.
Investigators said they communicated with Blanchard and the others on social media as part of the operation. All 17 arranged to meet with someone whom they thought was underage to have sex. When they say Blanchard and the others showed up, officers arrested them.
Tuesday's court appearance, which was originally scheduled as a preliminary hearing, in Chesterfield lasted only a matter of seconds.
The prosecutor told the judge after reviewing the charges, the case would be nolle pros. That meant the charges would be dropped, but they could be refiled again at a later date if prosecutors felt they had enough evidence against Blanchard to move forward.
In the aftermath of his 2021 arrest, Blanchard stepped down from his pastoral duties at Rock Church International.
Blanchard was out on bond throughout the process, and he was allowed to travel outside of Virginia for his company called Zayin Solutions, or "Tech Direct," which sells LED screens to churches. Court documents show that Blanchard is still making $30,000 a month through his company.
After Tuesday's court hearing, Blanchard's attorney would only say he was "pleased with the outcome" of the case before quickly walking away.
13News Now spoke with an official from the Chesterfield County Juvenile Domestic and Relations Clerk's Office.
Regarding the 16 other men arrested in the same investigation, the official said five of those men were found guilty of the solicitation of prostitution with underage people charge. Charges were dismissed for two other men in the case.
The clerk's office official said several of the other men are awaiting results from a grand jury, while the rest were not listed in the juvenile court's computer system, which could be for a number of reasons.