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Fundamentalism, Sex Abuse

Sentencing Awaits Ernie Willis


On September 6, 2011, at 1:30 pm ET, Ernie Willis, the man who raped and impregnated Tina Anderson when she was only 15, will be sentenced.

Ernie Willis, for those not familiar with this case, was 38 years old when he decided to rape his children’s babysitter twice in 1997. Tina Anderson was only 15 years old at the time.

When Tina found out she was pregnant, she told her mother, who then decided to contact their pastor, Chuck Phelps. The next day, Chuck Phelps contacted Ernie Willis, who was also a member of his church.

Tina was then forced to stand in front of her church’s congregation and “confess her ‘sin’ – that she had become pregnant,” according to The Denver Channel. It was mentioned as well to the church that Ernie had been “unfaithful.” It was not mentioned that Ernie had raped Tina and that her pregnancy was a result of that. Ernie was allowed to continue attending Trinity Baptist Church; Tina, however, was not.

Chuck Phelps moved Tina to Colorado, with her mother’s consent, and Tina was forced to give her baby up for adoption two days after giving birth.

Although a police report had been filed, the case went cold when Tina was moved to Colorado. However, it was reopened when the police learned of her whereabouts last year and contacted her.

Ernie Willis was convicted on May 27, 2011, of raping her twice in 1997, but sentencing has been delayed until now. He faces up to 54 years in prison.

Please pray for Tina Anderson and her family during this time.

If you’d like to read my main article, keep reading.

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Teenager, Ernest Willis Attended Fundamentalist Baptist Church In NH

Posted by: Deb Stanley

CONCORD, N.H. — A man convicted of impregnating a 15-year-old girl he went to church with faces up to 54 years in a New Hampshire prison.

Ernest Willis, 52, is to be sentenced Tuesday in Merrimack Superior Court.

Willis admitted that he raped and impregnated his children’s baby sitter, Tina Anderson, in 1997. He maintains that the sex was consensual but acknowledges that the girl was under the legal age of consent.

Anderson told ABC News she was forced to stand terrified before her entire fundamentalist Baptist church congregation to confess her “sin” — that she had become pregnant.

What the teen wasn’t allowed to tell the group was that the pregnancy was the result of being raped by Willis, a fellow church member who was twice her age.

The church pastor helped ship her to the home of a Colorado couple she didn’t know — with her mother’s consent — and arrange for her baby to be adopted.

A jury in May convicted Willis of forcibly raping the girl twice in 1997 — once during a driving lesson and another time at her Concord home. Concord police had shelved the case that year when they couldn’t locate the victim, unaware she’d been moved to Colorado. They revived the investigation last year when they learned of her whereabouts.

“She got shamed, shunned, silenced and sent away,” prosecutor Wayne Coull told jurors.

Lawyers for Willis did not return calls seeking comment.

The case that lay dormant for well over a decade was resuscitated partly because of the Internet.

A former member of Trinity Baptist Church who witnessed the teenager’s church discipline session described it last year on a website maintained by a group called Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult Survivors.

Website founder, Jocelyn Zichterman, followed up with the former church member, Matt Barnhart, and learned the girl’s identity. Zichterman passed the information on to the Concord police.

The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Tina Anderson said she wanted her name used and has been interviewed extensively by the media.

She testified she was in “complete shock” when she picked up the phone on her husband’s birthday in early 2010 and a Concord detective asked her if she wanted to talk about what happened in 1997.

Willis was arrested in May 2010 and remained free on $100,000 bail until he was convicted May 27 of this year. His bond was automatically revoked. Anderson gave her victim impact statement that day as well, so she would not have to return to New Hampshire from her Arizona home.

“When Ernie raped me, he destroyed the person I was and, in that moment, filled me with shame and guilt that I’ve battled against repeatedly,” she told the court. “When he decided that his sexual gratification was the most important thing in his life, he shattered mine.”

She said she was heartbroken when she gave her infant daughter to adoptive parents two days after her birth in 1998.

Anderson did not return calls from the AP. Zichterman, who has become her confidante and attended Willis’s trial, said Anderson is not returning to New Hampshire for the sentencing.

“She’s just staying behind the scenes,” Zichterman said.

She said Anderson is focusing on her three young children and tutoring college students online from her home.

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