CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In light of new evidence received by the Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in the past 48 hours concerning the criminal case of Virginia Beach pastor, John Blanchard, the Commonwealth’s Attorney is requesting a special prosecutor be assigned to the case to decide whether the case should be reopened and go to trial.

“Due to the repeated public comments and unfounded political attacks levied upon my office by both Chesterfield County Police Chief Jeffery Katz and Delegate Tim Anderson, I cannot ethically make any decisions on whether or not this new information should impact future prosecutorial decisions in this matter,” Stacey Davenport said during a press conference Thursday morning.

Blanchard was originally charged as part of an undercover operation that led to the arrest of 17 men accused of soliciting sex from minors. He was one of three defendants who had their charges nolle prossed — or set aside — while 13 others were found guilty of at least one charge.

A report from the Chesterfield Police Department later noted that Davenport cited a “lack of evidence” as the primary reason for the decision. Shortly after,  Col. Jeffrey Katz, Chesterfield’s Chief of Police, came forward with his own statement — claiming the decision to nolle prosse the case was “not due to a lack of evidence or a substandard investigation.”

After obtaining records documenting Blanchard’s interaction with an undercover detective posing as a 17-year-old girl on a “well-known prostitution website,” Del. Tim Anderson (R-Norfolk), an attorney himself, filed a motion to stop the expungement of the Chesterfield Police records on Blanchard, an action the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office had agreed to proceed with on Dec. 12, 2022, after the charges had been dismissed.

“He was treated differently,” Anderson stated. “That’s a fact, and that’s not something that we would want as lawyers or as public officials. We would not want to see somebody being treated differently or better than others in a criminal prosecution case.”

Due to the possible reopening of the Blanchard case, Davenport ended the scheduled press conference less than two minutes after it began, saying she could not make further any comments.

“Because this may once again become a future pending criminal case, I cannot make any further comments on the facts or the circumstances surrounding anything related to this matter,” Davenport stated.

Katz responded to the decision to assign a special prosecutor to the case in a statement on Facebook just an hour and a half after the press conference, saying “Good. I have privately – and then publicly – requested reasonable answers to reasonable questions; questions many rightfully are asking…questions that now actually stand a chance of getting answered. If Ms. Davenport chooses to frame those questions as a political attack, so be it. The wheels of justice are back in motion.”