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UPDATE: Black Collar Crime: Charges Against Methodist Pastor Stan Thompson Dismissed

pastor stan thompson

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Earlier this year Stanley “Stan” Thompson, pastor of Toms Brook United Methodist Church in Toms Brook, Virginia, was accused of sexually assaulting a child under the age of thirteen.

The Northern Virginia Daily reported at the time:

Stanley Alvin Thompson, 63, of 168 Cliffside Drive, Edinburg, was charged with aggravated sexual battery of a victim less than 13 years old. He is being held without bond at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail and due in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Thursday.

Thompson was appointed the pastor of the Toms Brook United Methodist Church, 3263 S. Main St., Toms Brook, at the 2015 Virginia Annual Conference. He resigned from the church on March 18, according to Paul Steidler, a spokesperson for the church.

“Toms Brook UMC is fully cooperating with law enforcement on this important matter,” Steidler said in an emailed statement. “The church urges anyone with knowledge about this situation to immediately contact law enforcement. Our fervent prayers are with the child and the child’s family.”

According to a 2015 Northern Virginia Daily report:

Thompson, of Eugene, Oregon, is a graduate of Northwest Christian University in Eugene and Emmanuel School of Theology in Johnson City, Tenn., where he received a master’s of divinity degree. He also received a doctor of ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

According to a news release, prior to joining the Toms Brook church, he served at Crenshaw United Methodist in Blackstone, Virginia.

Yesterday (October 7, 2021), charges against Thompson were dismissed.

The Northern Virginia Reporter Daily reports:

Stanley Thompson, 62, no longer faces the charge of aggravated sexual battery of a child less than 13 years old after Judge Chad Logan dismissed it in Shenandoah County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court at the end of a preliminary hearing.

The Northern Virginia Daily could not listen to the child’s testimony due to a state statute that protects the child.

….

But closing arguments indicated that the charge stemmed from Thompson playfully tickling the juvenile in a room with three other witnesses and briefly touching the top of the child’s genital area over clothes.

The child then went outside the residence of where the incident occurred in October 2020 to tell one of the other witnesses what happened, according to testimony and closing arguments.

Thompson had an established playful relationship with the child, and they didn’t see anything inappropriate the day of the incident, one of the witnesses testified.

The witness had told the child, but not Thompson, to stop the tickling a few months prior to the incident because the witness had become uncomfortable.

Only the child and the one witness testified during the hearing.

Attorney Beau Bassler, who represented Thompson, said Logan made a decision that was correct and tracked with the statute.

….

Logan explained during the hearing before dismissing the charge that evidence for the charge must prove an intent to molest the victim, according to state code. That wasn’t present in this instance, Logan said.

The touching was for a period of no more than two seconds, Bassler argued during the hearing. The child did do the right thing in telling somebody about being touched where a person shouldn’t have been touched, Bassler said after the hearing.

Shenandoah County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Collins argued that the reaction of the child should be considered, which involved them immediately telling one of the witnesses in the room what had happened after it did.

While being disappointed in Logan’s decision, Collins said after the hearing that he respected it.

“I can’t say that his analysis of the law is wrong,” Collins said.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office could seek a direct indictment against Thompson, bringing the charge back at the circuit court level. Collins said that action will be evaluated as Bassler said Thompson would fight the charge at any time, anywhere.

“He’s not guilty, hundred percent,” Bassler said.

Thompson declined to comment after the hearing, except to say that he was glad about the result, is digesting it, and then will decide what his future plans may be. Thompson retired from the church in the days prior to his arrest and was confined to house arrest where his family lived in Blacksburg for a period of time while he was on bond.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    apostatedaughter

    And, looking at the church website, they are still linking to their disgraced pastor’s YouTube Channel, Sermons with Pastor Stan. Good grief. (At least they, unlike most, made a statement regarding his abuse on their site.)

  2. Avatar
    thatotherjean

    The child involved was right to report what happened, of course; but, from the reporting, the pastor’s actions seem to be more a mistake in judgment than an attempt to molest. I trust that, hereafter, Mr. Thompson will keep his hands to himself. Tickling can get pretty aggressive, and isn’t really appropriate between a pastor and a child in his congregation.

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