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Old 11-16-2004, 05:45 PM   #1
Seamus Haley
James Church, Bad Guy

Before I get into it, this post needs a few disclaimers.

First, I have never done business with James Church, I merely have evidence of a situation which I feel warrants a bad guy post, garnered from several different message boards but collectively leading to a very negative conclusion.

Secondly, I debated with myself where this thread belonged BOI versus Hell because I had not personally done business with the man but I believe my proof constitutes enough for a BOI thread about his shady behaviors. The moderators may disagree and this may end up in Hell, their call entirely as I was kind of on the fence about it myself.

Third, given his responses elsewhere I'm pretty certain that James will come across as unstable and probably post inappropriately. While his conduct is telling about his character, I would hope that the decision to put this thread in Hell is based on the merit (or lack of) in my post rather than any rules infractions James hopes to add in order to tank the thread.

Fourth, I suspect a number of people have had successful deals with James and are happy with their purchases. By all means please post your experiences but also bear in mind that I am going to be detailing a serious flaw with James' ethics and you may want to rethink how your purchase went when you consider the evidence I am going to show.

Fifth, I will evidence a deal between James and another individual several times as it was the situation which alerted me to his negative actions. I am NOT speaking for anyone except myself and my words and thoughts on this matter are mine alone. James had some difficulty distinguishing beteen the names "Seamus" and "Jessica" before so here's the clear and simple statement I am not speaking for Jessica, do not in any way represent her or her interests and if she has anything to add here, she can do it herself.

Now, the meat of the issue.

Like many Fauna users I am registered at and participate to varying degrees on numerous reptile related forums. On one such forum, a user created a thread about a snake she had just obtained which had an abnormality in the way it's jaw was shaped, essentially asking if anyone had seen anything like it before and what the chances for different causes were. She already had a vet appointment but it was a decent discussion.

In that thread, the following photo was posted (reposted here without permission incidentally)

Of the animal she had purchased. The lower jaw is clearly having problems.

Here is the photo James Church sent prior to her purchasing the snake-

While close scrutiny shows the jaw to be similarly deformed, the camera angle minimizes the appearance and it's fairly easy to see how it could be overlooked if someone is not specifically looking for the trait. While James neglected to mention the deformity to his buyer and then tried to claim it happened during shipping... These are Jessica's issues, should she choose to post about them and are NOT the thrust of this thread.

What I have displayed above is one example of James Church having jaw deformities in his stock.

Here is another photo, taken by James Church himself (the ugly chair shows up in a lot of his photos) showing an anery with a jaw deformity...

Here's ANOTHER anery of his which has a deformed jaw and head...

ANOTHER os James Church's photos... the boa with it's head in the lower left looks like something's going on there but the picture is too fuzzy to nail it down. Since he takes plenty of perfectly clear photographs when it suits him, that in and of itself is suspect...

Albino with an underbite, also James Church's animal...

Another photo of the anery, note how careful he is to crop the head.

A pastel, jaw cropped and again with the ugly chair.

The point of this is...

James Church has jaw deformities in his stock, in concentrations greater than should be acceptable to any ethical individual. He's made statements which indicate that he is breeding the same animals that have in the past produced jaw deformities and even the deformed animals themselves, calling them individually "flukes" despite the propensity he has shown in producing them. What I ask now... Did any of you purchase siblings to the ones displaying the deformity? Do you want to have a chance of producing your own quasimodoboas? He's certainly not accurately representing the deformity as being present in his stock so why would he accurately tell a potential customer that their animal was related to a deformed one? Heck, if these deformities are the ones we're allowed to see, what proof is there that he hasn't culled more obvious ones?

Negative traits are sometimes formative flukes and sometimes genetic. Given the number which have been shown to exist in his stock with similar deformities (malformed jaws) there's a good chance there is a genetic cause. Much like the jerks who breed albinos with no eyes, this has to stop and it has to stop NOW before too many descendants of his animals get loose in the breeding population. While I personally would encourage anyone who has ever purchased an animal from this man to request an immediate refund given the possibility that your animal was misrepresented (omission of relation to deformed animals and it's not as if he's going to turn around and honestly inform anyone of which animals were related) and knowing full well that it's unethical to breed an animal which is a possible carrier for a likely genetic deformity...

Bad guys sell animals with deformities. Even worse bad guys will sell siblings to deformed animals without mentioning it to the customer. I'm pretty sure James will show up here to argue, he has elsewhere anyway when I mentioned the subject. The fact that he's denying the problem exists rather than addressing ways to solve it puts him squarely in the bad guy camp. He's no better than the creeps selling the siblings to eyeless animals or the ones who are calling unproven animals a genetic morph... he's misrepresenting his stock by omission and he's breeding deformities for sale.

I'll be emailing him a link to the thread but in the mean time, if anyone has a response, please feel free to add it.
Old 11-16-2004, 06:40 PM   #2
That's the problem with this supply and demand economy. There are tons of good, ETHICAL, honest breeders, who have problems selling their animals, because they are plain or "yesterdays" morphs. Invent a new morph or breed ones that are still in demand and people stand in line to scoop them up. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a Piebald BP or some of those newer morphs, but I would definitely buy it from a breeder with ethics. I'm just saying that with people lining up for certain animals, it makes it that much easier for crooks, frauds, and unethical breeders to bag a ton of money. Inbreed the cr@p out of animals, purposely breed genetic defects, even try to make a genetic defect (no eyed scrub) a new morph. It's sickening.

Even if that one photo didn't show the deformity, the fact that he has so many photos with the head cropped, makes it obvious that this person is misrepresenting his animals. The fact he continues to breed this defective line, and then pose pics so the defect doesn't show, is outright fraud, no different than any of the other outright thieves that are giving us all a bad name.
I just wish that cases like this weren't so low on the priority list for the court system and law enforcement. If a big company were selling a product to the public and deliberately missrepresented their product as bad as this, they would be shut down in an instant and be dragged into court, or forced to give refunds.
Old 11-16-2004, 07:05 PM   #3
Seamus Haley
Another cropped one that hides the deformity.

Old 11-16-2004, 07:13 PM   #4
This is really sad. He has some beautiful animals (the anery especially) but they should be pets.....NOT breeding stock.
Kinda reminds me of the one eyed albino boas that were on KS recently and the no eye one on there now.
Too many people are looking for the $ and will cheat people and breed substandard animals to make a quick buck.
Thanks for posting. I will definitely avoid this individual.
Old 11-16-2004, 09:35 PM   #5


Old 11-18-2004, 10:33 AM   #6
Seamus Haley
Found ANOTHER one, not sure if this is the same albino he has with the underbite or not but check out the left side of this animal's jaw in this photo.

Old 11-18-2004, 10:59 AM   #7
I'm only curious as to why he, or anyone else, hasn't stepped up to say anything. *shrug* I know Jessica will soon, but surely there must be someone else that has dealt with him?
Old 11-18-2004, 09:29 PM   #8
I was waiting for a rebuttal from James but it appears he isn't interested in saving his own behind, so here goes my own piece of this rather interesting story.

In response to ldydrgn's post: Here's one of the very early e-mails he sent me before there was any problem.
hey me again. Shipping info.....if recieved say on a thursday or friday shipping would be on monday. I was cheching others guarantees and most offer 24hrs up to 48hrs. I will honor a 24hr. But I do guarantee her to be 100% healthy. By the way I post on the kingsnake forum under bahreptiles as anyone that has dealt with me...Jeff Ronne, Bill Kirby, Joel Dubay all of them will tell you I ship to notch animals
Thanks again
James Church
By his own accounts his shipped animals to these people. Maybe if someone knows them fairly well, they wouldn't mind asking to see if they'll chime in?

And now to the meat of it... (typos and all)
I'm sorry I never saved a copy of the original ad posted over on k-snake classifieds but any of you who tread that land will probably recall it.

The ad for the female I purchased was up in late September. And said something like "5ft pastel het for anery $450, $40 for shipping" It was rather light on information but I had seen the animal before (as many people have.)
These are the three pictures in the ad: (The one where she's in the chair I'm not 100% on it was either that one or one very similar to it but the point is the same.)

There were a few e-mails and a phone call. He assured me she was "100% healthy" and he was only selling her to make room etc etc. There isn't anything particular about any of these exchanges that I can tell so I will omit them here.
On Sept. 28th I paypaled Mr. Church $490 to the address bcrosby@carolina.rr.com.
She arrived on Thursday October 7th at 4:00. She was shipped UPS Saver (automatic points against him for that but I never addressed the issue with him so its not a big deal). I can get a picture of the box if need be but it would only be overkill I think.

The VERY first thing I noticed was her jaw. The second she was out of the bag. It was VERY obvious. I examined it immediately and it wasn't cheesy or painful to her, but there was some sort of clear problem. Her lower jaw looked bulgy and tilted to one side and her nose is very small looking against the bulging jaw. And there was slight inflammation in the mouth. The inflammation lead to my supposition about the problem as seen in my message.
That night I emailed him around 9:40. This was my message.

Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2004 9:39 PM
Subject: she has arrived safely...

She arrived today around 4 and seems to be doing fairly well. But she does have a swollen lower jaw. I checked inside her mouth and there doesn't seem to be anything too bad but it does look like there was some sort of trauma.
Maybe she striked at the inside of the bag at some point and got some teeth caught and was stuck like that for a time, I don't know. Was anything apparent when you shipped her?
His reply:
Sent : Thursday, October 7, 2004 10:04 PM
Subject : Re: she has arrived safely...

Hey Jessica.
Just got home. No she was fine. I packed the box well I thought. She hasnt
gotten injured here. Sorry I forgot to leave a tracking # oops. Enjoy her
James C.

I waited, wondering if the swelling would go down if it was in fact some sort of trauma.
The I e-mailed him again, increasingly concerned. As I mentioned here, I attached some pics, to prove my point. If those pics are also necessary then they can be provided (and looking through my pictures it appears I took pics the day she arrived on the 7th they just weren't uploaded to my computer until the 13th... a screenshot could prove that but only if someone calls for it.)

Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 11:09 PM
Subject: Re: she has arrived safely...

Here are some pictuers of her jaw. The swelling hasn't gone down; but she has eaten for me. And when I touceh it it doesn't seem to hurt her. But I'm not sure what to do about it, I'm curious about your thoughts?
His reply:
Sent : Thursday, October 14, 2004 4:42 AM
Subject : Re: she has arrived safely...

That looks nothing like when she was here. She did eat right? She was one of my favorites. I'm not sure whats going on with that. Please keep me informed if it gets worse.
On October 21st I posted my first inquiry on herpview.com about the matter. I count many of the people there my friends and wanted their opinion on the condition and to a lesser extent the deal but it was never intended to develop into a BOI-esque situation.
Here is the thread
The pictures posted in that thread are taken on the 20th.
It was either that next day or the following that I went ahead and made the vet appointment. I e-mailed him a brief statement that I was taking her to the vet and he decided not to reply. After the vet appointment I postedthis thread
and at the same time e-mailed Mr. Church.

Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 12:25 PM
Subject: Re: she has arrived safely...

After visiting with the vet is pretty clear that she has had this condition for sometime and taking a closer look at the pics that you took of her its not as apparent but the problem is evident in even those pics. That being said I'm very disappointed that 1. you would misrepresent an animal in a sale and 2. that you would lie to me telling me that it wasn't that way when you sent her. This snake has some sort of bone deformity that keeps her mouth from closing properly and that doesn't happen during shipping. This may or may not be a result of your treatment; there's also the possibility its a deformity that's tied to her unusual coloration. Either way, I purchased a healthy boa and I got something less than that.
I also can't believe that you just didn't notice this anomaly; she was one of your favorites right? One look at her up close and it's clear to anyone that there's something wrong with her jaw.
Her sister it seems also has this problem, giving some credence to a genetic issue which would make her useless as a breeder.
Now, I do not want to return her for a refund. But would like you to admit that she did have this problem when you sold her and that her sister has the same problem as well. This should be admitted publicly. You are breeding their parents again and its not fair to any future buyers if this problem is genetic. I'll admit this line has potential to be something special if the coloration is not connected to the jaw problem but if it is then its a moot line that should not be propagated.
Air out the fact that this line may have genetic issues or I will on the BOI.
I'm sorry it had to come to this. But you blatantly misrepresented her then lied to me about it. You can't hide behind "headless", blurry, or angled just-the-right-way pics anymore. The more open you are about the potential genetic issue the more people will accept the risk when trying to potentially separate the two mutations. Do what's fair and don't cower behind the veil that the net provides; that won't do anyone any good.
Jessica Curtis
His reply:
Sent : Sunday, October 31, 2004 8:30 PM
Subject : Re: she has arrived safely...

Hello Jessica,
I am takena aback by your statements. That snake is awesome. I do have around 50 to look after. Yes that was a special one to me. As for misrepresenting.... I don't think that I did. She is 100% healthy and killer looking. Her genetics are totally fine. You saw the pics before you
purchased her . What about her sister? I have bred the same parents 3 years in a row. You are implying that the genetics are substandard with no foundation for that assumption. I don't know what to tell you? I did not try to do anything underhanded. If you don't want her , send her back. Het for Anery...to a het for Ghost?? That's a no brainer.
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 9:33 PM

So you can honestly say that you didn't notice the deformity in her face? I don't have any reason not to believe you're an honest guy (you have a great rep around the net)... But the deformity is pretty pronounced and the sister from the pics I've seen appears similarly... I didn't see it in the pics the first time around because of either slightly blurry or the one pic that's fairly clear her head is turned to the least noticeable side. Sometimes it looks alright almost unnoticeable. You really didn't see it. When the vet opened up her mouth and showed me where her lip comes in and often times gets stuck on her lower teeth, you could clearly see where the bones in the jaw dip in where they shouldn't. If you want I can try to get a statement written up by the vet and faxed to you or something.
I said the possibility is there for a genetic link between the coloration (which I believe to be mutant) and the deformity in the face. I can't be sure. Do you have pics of other littermates? Were there more colored like this? I don't have enough knowledge of the breedings to be sure. All I know 100% is I have a snake with some sort of jaw deformity that has been in place long term. Only you can clear up exactly what is going on here. So please enlighten me.
Jessica Curtis
I'd like to mention that the "great rep" mention stemmed from a BOI post about him.

And now his reply:
Sent : Monday, November 1, 2004 9:07 AM

I never really noticed anything with her. I do have her sister here and she has it. As for the one you got, I never gave her a second look in regards to something like that. I checked the pics you sent me and I believe you. I was not and I do not try to pull <font color=red>[**censored**]</font> over on people. I do see it in the pics you sent but it is slight. I don't need a vet statement, you have pointed it out and I see it now. I am sorry for the problems. If you want I will hook you up this season to help make things right. Like Anerys? Please
get back to me.
James C.
Sent: Monday, November 01, 2004 10:56 PM
Subject: Re: she has arrived safely...

Can you give me information? Let's start there.
I'm interested in this line; why else would I have purchased her. But the mouth problem throws a kink in the system. I need to know if its genetic, period. I can breed her and find out that way (which will most likely bein order no matter what) but it would be VERY helpful if you just give me some information. Like, you said their were 3 litters... Now were any other offspring of this coloration produced? (I vaguely recall asking this before; your answer was no, correct?) Were there any other babies with the problem? Do the parents have the coloration or the problem? Where are the other babies? Wholesaled off? If this is a genetic issue possible het males may be helpful in the assessment of the heritability of the gene/s. Did the condition in both snakes worsen over time? Does the anery the "platinum blonde" have a worse jaw? What were the genetics of the parents? Both het anery? One anery, one het? Or were neither het to your knowledge until you got one (or more?) anery offspring?
I know its a lot of questions but its imperative that everything be clear before I decide where exactly things should move from here.
His only reply:
Sent : Tuesday, November 2, 2004 4:56 PM

Hello Jessica, you have a #
I can clear this up easier if I can call.
James C.
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 9:08 PM

I'd actually perfer if you just e-mail any answers you may have. I like e-mail because it provides and automatic reference for anything stated. If you still want to call I'm busy tonight so tommorow night is a possibility.
My phone number is 304-###-####
Jessica Curtis
He calls the night of the 2nd... and because I was busy like I told him, I wasn't able to answer the phone. He e-mails to say that he has called and that's it. He calls again at some point and I call him back at that point he says he can't talk to me and says he'll call me back in ten minutes he doesn't so I drop the phone issue. I don't like talking important things over the phone because like I stated in the e-mail, an e-mail is a hard thing that yes can be edited when its copied and pasted but isn't as bad as the phone where it's two people hopefully trying to remember everything that's conversing.
At the same time, I'm very busy and my phone is usually off. It's very hard to get a hold me by phone which is my own fault but in any case. There was no contact by phone for awhile.
My memory and my game of saving every e-mail has failed me entirely and I think I e-mailed him asking to just e-mail me the information but I could have intended but hadn't gotten around to it by the time the "stuff" started over on Randy's site.
The post that riled James up was on the 15th and then he e-mailed me on the 16th in the wee hours of the morn.

Sent : Tuesday, November 16, 2004 1:55 AM
Subject : full of crap

When ever you let me know you were not satisfied I told you to send it back. Like I said with 50 I cant wipe all their noses. You denied. It was not intentional. But you denied a refund after I offered so no offence that is YOUR fault for not partaking of it. It WAS offered. So stop bad mouthing me. Pass this along on your path of chat rooms. Be fair. I have been.
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2004 3:58 PM
Subject: RE: full of crap

Asking for advice is in no part badmouthing. I've never had a situation even remotely like this come up; I needed and do need outside opinion. But at no time did I ever say any sort of finally verdict on you in the situation because this issue isn't finsished. Some of the data complied does seem unusual. If you would like to clear any and all of it up then PLEASE do... because until I and the people that I have addressed know the full story we can only wonder... which leaves people to conclude things... I have tried
in my forum posts to maintain a fairly neutral position until all the facts are posted to me and I can make my decision.
I know the refund was offered and I stand by my original refusal, becauseit was pending further information. And about that further information, my cellphone is acting up and I would like you to repsond to my questions by e-mail. It shouldn't take but 10 minutes of your time. If its more likely than not, that the color inheritance and the mouth issue have connections then I DO want a refund. But I can't make the call without the
information. With the information this issue can be settled completely and we both can move on. I'm sorry there was some confusion with myself and seamus. I don't as
usual try to jump to conclusions I am as I have stated before, left only to wonder.
And his last message to me...
Sent : Tuesday, November 16, 2004 6:00 PM

My last message to him which was as I believe it that night although I don't have a date.
There is no reason to be mad unless you have something to hide. Seamus is being blunt with his accusations but if you would clear things up then the accusations could fall flat. Reacting angrily only futher incites those accusations. It's up to you to clear the air and as it were the pot.
Now, after all of that. I can only assume that the accusations are in some respect true. Otherwise why is James so unwilling to provide evidence to dispute the claims, which he could do very easily. Instead he consistently gets angry without providing any real evidence.

And the vet by the way is Dr. Scott Stahl . Well known and respected and he does know his snakes.

That's the whole of it. I am of course not happy how the deal ended up but in the end I am glad that the truth about his line is out. Animals with inheritable deformities should not be propagated; its not fair to the animals and not healthy for any population, especially a captive one where such issues can only be compounded by poor breeding practices.
That being said I may decide to breed this female one day in an attempt to see if the coloration (which I believe to be mutant) and the deformity are connected; and any and all deformed animals will be put down humanely if there should be any, regardless of generation. Some would argue that these babies would make for pets but the pet market is flooded with pet quality animals and well I just don't want to risk the gene pool with the anomaly. If and when I do decide to breed her (its definitely not inevitable) all results will be posted in a public forum.
I believe if Mr. Church had decided to be more open about the jaw issue and its possible ties with a new mutation, none of this would have occurred. Perhaps he knows the two traits are linked and therefore doesn't want the word out, but to sell just one as he did with me was enough to announce it with a loudspeaker.
Like it has been stated, you have to wonder what other animals he's sold or what worse cases he's put down?
Time may tell or it may not... Either way, James Church's dishonesty and breeding policies have shown him as he truly is.

And excuse the tremendous length of this post....
Old 12-17-2004, 12:54 AM   #9
Ray Aristy

Is this about this guy at Bahreptiles?
I'm thinking of buying a Hypo from him for $400, are you saying I shouldn't?
Old 12-17-2004, 01:21 AM   #10
Ray Aristy
Question Hypo from James

Here is the pic he sent me:


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