NH convict in shamed girl's rape gets 15-30 years | ajc.

com

Atlanta Weather

Home

News

83° F

Sports

Air quality 96 |

Entertainment

Traffic

Travel

Business

Customer Care

Lifestyle

Print/Digital Subscriptions

Obituaries

Homes

Search… Jobs

Cars

Classifieds NATIONAL / WORLD NEWS 6:22 p.m. Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Text size:

NH convict in shamed girl's rape gets 1530 years
ShareThis
By LYNNE TUOHY The Associated Press

Print

E-mail

Today's news Reprints, Permissions Today's top videos Tuesday, it was a former church member's turn to apologize before he was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for forcible rape. Ernest Willis, 52, of Gilford said he was "sorry and ashamed for this thoughtless act of sexual misconduct." But in his lengthy statement he did not admit he forcibly raped the girl. Listening telephone from Arizona, victim Tina Anderson said she 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, no matter how many times I said it was not consensual. Now it's been proven in a court of law that he's guilty and he's been given a significant sentence." The AP typically does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Anderson asked that her name be used and has given numerous media interviews. Willis, wearing bright orange prison garb and shackled at the ankles, also apologized to his ex-wife and their children for the embarrassment and financial ruin they've suffered and to Concord's Trinity Baptist Church for the ridicule his case has wrought. The case remained unsolved for years because Concord police could not locate the teen. Unbeknownst to them, the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church helped ship the girl to Colorado, with her mother's consent, to live with a Baptist couple she did not know and put her infant daughter up for adoption.

Tools and widgets Archives

CONCORD, N.H. — The 15-year-old New Hampshire girl was pregnant, scared and humiliated when she was made to stand before her Baptist church congregation 14 years ago and apologize for her immorality.

Please wait while loading this widget. If no content appears within 15sec, you may need to download or upgrade the free Adobe Flash Player.

FILE - In this May 26, 2011 file photo, Ernest Willis carries his lawyers' documents as he enters Merrimack Superior Court in Concord, N.H., on the fourth day of his trial on charges that he forcibly raped his children's 15-year-old babysitter, in 1997. Willis, convicted on May 27, will be sentenced Tuesday, Sept. 6, 201l. (AP Photo/Alexander Cohn, Pool, File)

Watch more video
Local sports | Local video from AJC, Channel 2 Most viewed stories Top photo galleries

1. Body found in SW Atlanta 2. Bishop Eddie Long asks DA to dismiss theft
charges against former security guard

3. Cops: Domestic dispute leaves 3 dead in
Kirkwood home

4. Judge denies defense bid to toss Hemy Neuman
statement to police

5. State designates place to take dead whales
More popular stories » Put this on your site

Ernest Willis is escorted out of the Merrimack County Superior Courthouse, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 in Concord, N.H. Willis was convicted of raping and impregnating a 15-yearold church member, who was made to apologize to her fellow members, he was sentenced Tuesday to 15 to 30 years in prison. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Police located Anderson last year after a former church member posted to a blog decrying the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement. The post described Anderson's church discipline session at Trinity Baptist. Willis was arrested in May 2010. Anderson said Tuesday she would have loved to see others involved in her case held accountable, but is satisfied with Today's deal: FormWell Personal Training
Free: Get DealSwarm alerts by email | Today's deal

Services »

Find the right people for the job

Enter keyword or business name

Search

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nh-convict-in-shamed-1160195.html[9/10/2011 6:37:35 PM]

NH convict in shamed girl's rape gets 15-30 years | ajc.com

Willis's punishment.
Heating & Air Conditioning Guide: Find trusted service pros.

In imposing the sentence, Merrimack Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler said Willis betrayed the trust the girl placed in him and robbed her of her childhood. Willis faced up to 54 years in prison on convictions for statutory rape and aggravated 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 weeks later at her Concord home. His lawyers say he will appeal those convictions. The teen babysat Willis's children and, a prosecutor said Tuesday, considered him a father figure. "Her trust and admiration were repaid with violence and rape," prosecutor Wayne Coull told the judge. Coull said the most aggravating factor of all was Willis's reaction upon learning the teen was pregnant. "He offered to punch her in the stomach so hard as to cause a miscarriage," Coull said. "For the defendant to be so cruel and selfish as to recommend such actions upon a child is just outrageous." Before his trial in May, Willis pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape. He maintained they had consensual sex on one occasion only, but acknowledged the girl was under the legal age of consent. Willis remained stoic as the judge sent him to prison for a
Ernest Willis is escorted out of the Merrimack County Superior Courthouse, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 in Concord, N.H. Willis was convicted of raping and impregnating a 15-yearold church member, who was made to apologize to her fellow members, he was sentenced Tuesday to 15 to 30 years in prison. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Discounts on landscaping services.

From our news partners
Shoppers caught off guard when deer dart into store Parents: Casey may have had seizure as Caylee "drowned" Man asked permission to dump body in neighbor's trash can Family: 400-year-old painting stolen by Nazis T.I. disputes Feds' reasons for returning him to prison Suspect arrested in attack on renowned Gaelic football player Some Texas residents begin to return home; 1,400 houses destroyed Firefighter on disability competes in Ironman, but can't find work Hiker killed in 300-foot fall from Wash. cliff 2 moms accused of neglect after juvenile fight

Ernest Willis is escorted out of the Merrimack County Superior Courthouse, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 in Concord, N.H. Willis was convicted of raping and impregnating a 15-yearold church member, who was made to apologize to her fellow members, he was sentenced Tuesday to 15 to 30 years in prison. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

minimum of 15 years. "This particular day is a day for justice for the victim," Smukler told him, saying Willis betrayed the trust of a defenseless teenager. The judge stressed to Willis that he was not sentencing him for the actions of Trinity Baptist Church and then pastor Chuck Phelps.

10 years since 9/11 attacks
Security on rise 10 years later Americans impacted still today

Anderson told the AP she can never purge from her mind the horror and humiliation of being made to apologize to the congregation. "It will never go away," Anderson said. "And that's not necessarily a bad thing because it helps me to be more compassionate to others. I would love to be able to use my trauma, my pain, to help others." Anderson listened to the sentencing from the home of a victim advocate in Arizona. She did not address the court. But in a statement she delivered after Willis was convicted she said he "destroyed the person I was ... and filled me with shame and guilt." She said it was heartbreaking to put her daughter up for adoption and that she misses her every day. "When he decided that his sexual gratification was the most important thing in his life, he shattered mine," she said.

Timeline: 10 years later
Could attacks happen again? New York won't forget Rebuilding the World Trade Center 'America is united,' or is it?

Luckovich: Remembering 9/11
Anniversary events in Atlanta

TV: 9/11-related programming Photos: Before & After | Memorial | Newspapers | AJC staff
Tribute for the victims

More Nation & World stories »
Courage of Flight 93 victims lauded at dedication Storm aims at Mexico with 10 oil

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nh-convict-in-shamed-1160195.html[9/10/2011 6:37:35 PM]

NH convict in shamed girl's rape gets 15-30 years | ajc.com workers missing Texas wildfires evacuees anxious to return home Gallery to auction Amelia Earhart goggles, photos

Willis, a divorced father of four, remained free on bail until his May 27 conviction. Tuesday he was taken to the state prison in Concord to begin serving his sentence. ___

September 06, 2011 06:22 PM EDT Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Inside AJC.COM Photos of the week The week's hottest deal Renovators build up

The AJC's photo staff selects the week's best photos from around town and around the globe.

$10 for $20 at Café Istanbul. Get today's deal at DealSwarm.com, in partnership with the AJC.

To make the most of a small lot, expand your living area with a second story addition.

Penny Stock of the Day Rated #1 Penny Stock Newsletter on the net VictoryStocks.com/

1.10% Money Market Accts Which money market account pays the most interest? www.RateCatcher.com

CD & Money Market Rates Compare CD Rates From Top Bnaks. Interet Calculator & Savings Tips. Bankrate.com

Ads by Yahoo!

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE SITE

Subscribe »

SECTIONS News Sports Entertainment Travel Business Lifestyle Obituaries OTHER EDITIONS Sign up for newsletters Digital Products AJC for iPad Sign up for ajcMobile RSS and Widgets Today's news | A1 image Archives

GUIDES Best of Atlanta School Guide Neighborhood Guide AJC in Education Atlanta Home Sales Atlanta Topics Travel Guide Atlanta Holiday Guide Atlanta Crime & Safety Find Atlanta Jobs

ADVERTISING About our ads Advertise with us E-Sheets AJC SITES ajc.com AccessAtlanta Atlanta Jobs Atlanta Homes Atlanta Apartments Atlanta Cars Atlanta Classifieds Mundo Hispánico BuenRato Cars on AutoTrader.com

Send us your suggestions about this page.

Customer Care »
Vacation stops, manage subscriptions and more AJC SERVICES Staff contacts

Your e-mail address (will not be shared)

Reprints and permission Contests Submit event listings Send us news tips Careers at AJC Careers at Cox AJC Store AJC Conversation

Visitor Agreement | Privacy Statement © 2011 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Search ajc.com…

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nh-convict-in-shamed-1160195.html[9/10/2011 6:37:35 PM]