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NH Convict in Shamed Girl's Rape Gets 15-30 Years _ Ajc

NH Convict in Shamed Girl's Rape Gets 15-30 Years _ Ajc

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Published by: fourbzboysmom on Sep 12, 2011
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NH convict in shamed girl's rape gets 15-30 years | ajc.comhttp://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nh-convict-in-shamed-1160195.html[9/10/2011 6:37:35 PM]
6:22 p.m. Tuesday, September 6, 2011
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By LYNNE TUOHYThe Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. — The 15-year-old New Hampshire girl was pregnant, scared and humiliatedwhen she was made to stand before her Baptist church congregation 14 years ago andapologize for her immorality.Tuesday, it was a former church member's turn to apologizebefore he was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for forciblerape.Ernest Willis, 52, of Gilford said he was "sorry and ashamedfor this thoughtless act of sexual misconduct." But in hislengthy statement he did not admit he forcibly raped the girl.Listening telephone from Arizona, victim Tina Anderson saidshe was "thrilled" with the sentence."It's a huge amount of vindication for me," Anderson, now 29,told The Associated Press. "I was never really believed, nomatter how many times I said it was not consensual. Now it'sbeen proven in a court of law that he's guilty and he's beengiven a significant sentence."The AP typically does not identify victims of sexual assault,but Anderson asked that her name be used and has givennumerous media interviews.Willis, wearing bright orange prison garb and shackled at theankles, also apologized to his ex-wife and their children forthe embarrassment and financial ruin they've suffered and toConcord's Trinity Baptist Church for the ridicule his case haswrought.The case remained unsolved for years because Concordpolice could not locate the teen. Unbeknownst to them, thepastor of Trinity Baptist Church helped ship the girl toColorado, with her mother's consent, to live with a Baptistcouple she did not know and put her infant daughter up foradoption.Police located Anderson last year after a former churchmember posted to a blog decrying the IndependentFundamentalist Baptist movement. The post describedAnderson's church discipline session at Trinity Baptist. Williswas arrested in May 2010.Anderson said Tuesday she would have loved to see othersinvolved in her case held accountable, but is satisfied withToday's newsTools and widgetsReprints, PermissionsArchives
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NH convict in shamed girl's rape gets 15-30 years
FILE - In this May 26, 2011 file photo,Ernest Willis carries his lawyers'documents as he enters MerrimackSuperior Court in Concord, N.H., onthe fourth day of his trial on chargesthat he forcibly raped his children's15-year-old babysitter, in 1997. Willis,convicted on May 27, will besentenced Tuesday, Sept. 6, 201l.(AP Photo/Alexander Cohn, Pool,File)Ernest Willis is escorted out of theMerrimack County SuperiorCourthouse, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011in Concord, N.H. Willis was convictedof raping and impregnating a 15-year-old church member, who was madeto apologize to her fellow members,he was sentenced Tuesday to 15 to30 years in prison. (AP Photo/JimCole)
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NH convict in shamed girl's rape gets 15-30 years | ajc.comhttp://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nh-convict-in-shamed-1160195.html[9/10/2011 6:37:35 PM]
Willis's punishment.In imposing the sentence, Merrimack Superior Court JudgeLarry Smukler said Willis betrayed the trust the girl placed inhim and robbed her of her childhood. Willis faced up to 54years in prison on convictions for statutory rape andaggravated felonious sex assault.A jury in May convicted Willis of raping the girl twice in 1997 — once while he was giving her driving lessons and weekslater at her Concord home. His lawyers say he will appealthose convictions.The teen babysat Willis's children and, a prosecutor saidTuesday, considered him a father figure."Her trust and admiration were repaid with violence andrape," prosecutor Wayne Coull told the judge.Coull said the most aggravating factor of all was Willis'sreaction upon learning the teen was pregnant."He offered to punch her in the stomach so hard as to causea miscarriage," Coull said. "For the defendant to be so crueland selfish as to recommend such actions upon a child is just outrageous."Before his trial in May, Willis pleaded guilty to one count ofstatutory rape. He maintained they had consensual sex onone occasion only, but acknowledged the girl was under thelegal age of consent.Willis remained stoic as the judge sent him to prison for aminimum of 15 years."This particular day is a day for justice for the victim,"Smukler told him, saying Willis betrayed the trust of adefenseless teenager.The judge stressed to Willis that he was not sentencing himfor the actions of Trinity Baptist Church and then pastorChuck Phelps.Anderson told the AP she can never purge from her mind thehorror and humiliation of being made to apologize to thecongregation."It will never go away," Anderson said. "And that's notnecessarily a bad thing because it helps me to be morecompassionate to others. I would love to be able to use mytrauma, my pain, to help others."Anderson listened to the sentencing from the home of avictim advocate in Arizona. She did not address the court.But in a statement she delivered after Willis was convictedshe said he "destroyed the person I was ... and filled me withshame and guilt."She said it was heartbreaking to put her daughter up foradoption and that she misses her every day."When he decided that his sexual gratification was the mostimportant thing in his life, he shattered mine," she said.
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Ernest Willis is escorted out of theMerrimack County SuperiorCourthouse, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011in Concord, N.H. Willis was convictedof raping and impregnating a 15-year-old church member, who was madeto apologize to her fellow members,he was sentenced Tuesday to 15 to30 years in prison. (AP Photo/JimCole)Ernest Willis is escorted out of theMerrimack County SuperiorCourthouse, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011in Concord, N.H. Willis was convictedof raping and impregnating a 15-year-old church member, who was madeto apologize to her fellow members,he was sentenced Tuesday to 15 to30 years in prison. (AP Photo/JimCole)
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