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Secrets and lies

Tina Anderson, age 15, was forced to stand up in front of her Baptist congregation and “confess” to her “sin” – she’d had sex with a married man and she was pregnant.

What she wasn’t allowed to tell the group was that the pregnancy was the result of being  raped by a church deacon, a man twice her age.

She says her New Hampshire pastor, Chuck Phelps, told her she was lucky not to have been born during Old Testament times when she would have been stoned to death…

Her mother sought help from the pastor and they agreed to send her thousands of miles away to Colorado to live with another Baptist family.

There, she reportedly was homeschooled and barred from seeing others her age until she gave her child up for adoption.

Meanwhile the church deacon of course was reported to the police. Right?

But in February 2010, after keeping her secret for 13 years, Anderson — a 28-year-old mother of three more children who lives in Arizona — was contacted by police and agreed to press charges.

All the years that she lived with the memory of the alleged abuse, she held it tight. “You are told not to talk about it,” according to Anderson, who also accuses the pastor of concealing her whereabouts.

Today, the man charged with rape has been arrested and Concord’s Trinity Baptist Church is at the center of that scandal for allegedly protecting one of its members and perhaps hiding the victim from police scrutiny.

Oh. Well hey, 13 years isn’t such a long time.

Ernest Willis, now 51 and a former church member who lives in Gilford, N.H., is accused of raping Anderson twice — once at Anderson’s home where he showed up when her parents were away and a second time in the backseat of a car when he was teaching her to drive.

In a seven-page statement to police obtained by ABCNews.com, Anderson said Willis offered to take her out of state where abortions for minors are legal, then asked if she wanted him to “punch me in the stomach as hard as he could” to trigger a miscarriage.

Willis was convicted of rape last May. He was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison on September 6.

Comments

  1. says

    I often see the argument that atheists cannot be moral, because morality comes from God. But then we see, as in your post, that Christian morality can turn out to be “Might makes right” and “Women should be slaves.”

  2. Beauzeaux says

    Why is the word “alleged” even in this story. The man has been convicted. There’s nothing fucking alleged about the abuse!

  3. Ken Pidcock says

    Anderson said that after she moved to Colorado, a minister there asked her to write a letter to Willis’s wife, apologizing for abusing her trust by having sex with her husband.

    That’s the way they see it, isn’t it? Chuck Phelps insists that “Trinity Baptist Church was the first to report this crime in 1997 as well as the only one to give repeated reminders to the Concord Police Department,” but he gives no indication that he understood the crime as rape, and he certainly didn’t encourage Anderson to contact the police (quite the contrary), so we’re supposed to hold him blameless?

  4. says

    What gets me is that the rapist was allowed to continue working in the youth ministry even as the pastor knew of his crime. This is one of the reasons I intentionally chose a licensed, secular daycare for my daughter rather than a church daycare, which would have been cheaper.

  5. Beauzeaux says

    All the rest of the story presumes the truth of it. Otherwise the rape would be “alleged”, the mother “allegedly sought help” and so forth.

    It’s just in this one place that there was “alleged” abuse.

    Perhaps this guy (before conviction) could be described as an “alleged” abuser but there is nothing alleged about the abuse.

    (News stories often get this wrong — talking about an alleged murder when they mean that the suspect is an alleged murderer.)

  6. Csrster says

    They say that justice delayed is justice denied, but I don’t buy it. This story is painful to read but at least for once one of these church-rapists gets what he deserves.

  7. Hertta says

    @Csrster

    The rapist was convicted, yes. But not before the girl was shamed, humiliated, sent away from her family and friends, held under house arrest, forced to give birth to her rapist’s child and then give the baby up for adoption. The rapes are not the only crimes here and maybe not even the worst.

  8. sailor1031 says

    A curious question here is why did the Concord PD not take action at the time? The laughably weak answer?

    “Concord police said they couldn’t find Anderson to investigate the rape allegations in 1997, the Associated Press reported. Police reopened their investigation after a former member of Trinity Baptist Church posted a message about Anderson’s case on Facebook.”

    Yet both Phelps and Tina’s mother knew where she was. They connived to send her to Colorado. Did the police not think to ask either of them? Especially Phelps, who claims he reported the crime back in 1997. Seems to me it would have been a simple question to ask. One gets the impression, wrongly maybe, that this is not a case of justice working slow but fine; rather a case of sloth or incompetence finally corrected by accident.

  9. Ophelia Benson says

    Yes – there are obscurities here. I kept being reminded of stories of the police being bashful about “honor” killings in the UK. Did the Concord police simply drop the ball because they couldn’t stomach interfering with religion?

    What was done to Anderson was horrible. Good for her that she’s resilient, but that doesn’t make it any less horrible.

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