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Home » News » Politics » 2012 State Election Former pastor: Man admitted sex with 15-yearold
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI New Hampshire Union Leader Published May 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm (Updated May 24, 2011)
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CONCORD — The former head pastor of Trinity Baptist Church testified church member Ernest P. Willis admitted he twice had sex with his 15-year-old babysitter in 1997, saying he was the “aggressor” on both occasions. Pastor Charles “Chuck” Phelps told a Merrimack County Superior Court jury Tuesday that he confronted Willis on Oct. 8, 1997, after Tina Anderson told him the night before she was pregnant with Willis’ child.

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At Merrimack Superior Court in Concord, Assistant County Attorney Wayne Coull, left, asks Pastor Charles “Chuck” Phelps about posts on Phelps’s website during the second day of the trial of Ernest P. Willis, who is charged with forcibly raping Tina Anderson in 1997, when she was 15. Phelps was pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, where both the victim and the

“I just hear some troubling, tragic news about you today and he took it from there,” Phelps recounted the meeting at the Clinton Street church’s office. “He told me he had been involved with Tina twice” and the sex occurred “about a month apart,” Phelps testified on the second day of Willis’ trial on rape charges. “He said he was the aggressor. That was the word he used,” said Phelps, who left Trinity Baptist Church in 2007 and now is pastor of Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis. Willis was a 39-year-old married father and member of Trinity Baptist Church when he allegedly raped Anderson, described by former church members as a good student who babysat for several church families and was well-liked by their children. Anderson, her mother and brother also belonged to the church. Willis, 52, of Gilford, admitted he had sex once with Anderson at her Concord home, but claimed she consented. He pleaded guilty last week to one count of felonious sexual assault. He will be sentenced on the felony charge at trial’s end. The defense said Willis had no other sexual encounters with the victim. But the state claims Willis raped Anderson twice between June 1 and July 31, 1997. The alleged rapes occurred in her home and while Willis was teaching Anderson to drive.

accused attended church. Alexander Cohn/Concord Monitor

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http://www.unionleader.com/article/20110524/NEWS03/705259953[6/28/2011 3:32:14 AM]

Former pastor: Man admitted sex with 15-year-old | New Hampshire NEWS03

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Willis pleaded not guilty to the remaining three alternative counts of forcible rape and one count of felonious sexual assault. The defense sought to bar Phelps’ testimony on the grounds that his 1997 meeting with Willis was privileged spiritual counseling. After a 30-minute hearing without jurors present, Judge Larry Smukler ruled the pastor, who was subpoenaed by the state, must testify. “There is no privilege ... to the extent that you are answering (the questions) under the compulsion of court order and not voluntarily,” Smukler ruled. Phelps also testified he notified Concord police and state child services that Willis had sex with a minor the same day he confronted Willis. He said he expected Concord police would have arrested Willis and doesn’t know why they didn’t. He also said he contacted Concord police a second time to relay to them that Anderson did not want to talk to them. Anderson, 29, now a married mother of three living in Arizona, testified Monday that Phelps told her in 1996 that Christians “forgive and forget” and don’t press charges after she said her stepfather, Daniel Leaf, molested her. Phelps denied this. “Forgive and forget is so contrary to my theology and everything that I’ve been taught. I did not teach forgive and forget. I teach confront,” Phelps said as Anderson sat in the front row, wiped away tears and shook her head no, and her brother Thomas sought to console her. The judge called the attorneys to the bench, then called a recess. Anderson did not return to the courtroom afterward. Attorneys would not comment. But Jocelyn Zichterman, who founded the “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult Survivors” Facebook page and has supported Anderson at trial, said Anderson was not banned from the court, but opted to not be present for Phelps’ testimony because it may be too emotional. Phelps also denied he made the decision to send Anderson to live with a church couple he knew in Colorado, even though Anderson said she preferred to go live with her grandparents in Texas rather than strangers. Phelps said the decision was made by Anderson’s mother, Christine Leaf. “I didn’t whisk her away. I didn’t make that decision. Her mother made that decision and it was a good decision,” Phelps said. He noted Anderson’s mother had limited options. “There was no money in the Leaf household. Her stepdad is in jail. Christine (Leaf) had to keep her job. There was no intent at all to cover this up. Period,” he said. Assistant County Attorney Wayne Coull asked Phelps what was the purpose of having Anderson stand in front of hundreds of parishioners during a church “discipline” session and confess to becoming pregnant. “The purpose was to offer assistance,” he replied. But several former church members testified they remembered it differently. Anderson was a frightened, sobbing 15-year-old forced to stand before some 500 Trinity Baptist Church parishioners in 1997 to admit she was pregnant and ask forgiveness, they said. “Pale as a ghost. Scared to death. A frightened little child,” was how Christine Barnhart, 38, of Concord recounted the session. “She stood up there and read a letter that they had made her write apologizing for her part in

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http://www.unionleader.com/article/20110524/NEWS03/705259953[6/28/2011 3:32:14 AM]

Former pastor: Man admitted sex with 15-year-old | New Hampshire NEWS03

this,” former church member and long-time clerk Francis Earle added. “I was broken hearted for this girl.” Barnhart said she watched “mortified” as Phelps stood alone with the trembling girl on the stage even though Earle said Anderson’s mother was sitting in the audience. But neither connected Anderson’s public repentance with one that occurred moments earlier when Willis admitted he was unfaithful to his wife.Phelps returns to the stand when the trial resumes Wednesday.

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Jim Harvey said: Is it no wonder that so many cases of rape and molestation go unreported? When a 15 year old girl is made to feel like she did something wrong by the very adults who should have protected her? There is NO consensual sex between a 39 year old man and a 15 year old girl. It's called rape. Plain and simple. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 2:54 am Jill Ashman King said: This case is disgusting, shame on every adult who was involved who did nothing. This Pastor Phelps failed this child, I wish there was someway they could charge him with neglect. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 7:27 am MARLENE GREEN said: Pastor Phelps is just as disgusting as Willis. I find their defense and denials absolutely contemptible. How they can look at themselves in the mirror every day is beyond me. Too bad being a pig isn't a criminal offense. These two would be busted for sure. And Pastor Phelps calls himself a man of God. God help us. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 8:31 am Eric Huether said: Can she be the only victim here? People like Willis usually fit into a pattern of this type of behavior. When a 39 year old is targeting 15 year olds for sex then you have to wonder if others will come forward eventually. I am going to assume that this aspect was investigated but what has he been doing since 1997. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 8:52 am

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20110524/NEWS03/705259953[6/28/2011 3:32:14 AM]

Former pastor: Man admitted sex with 15-year-old | New Hampshire NEWS03

Kim Laughtonero said: Unbelievable and tragic. Knowing what he knew, how could Pastor Phelps have ever made Tina Anderson stand before all the parishoners and ask for forgiveness. He's just as bad as that 'scum-sucking pig' that raped her. Hopefully, Earnest Willis will be sent away for a good number of years. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 10:01 am Sue Rochester said: You know what bothers me...??? Was her mother that stupid? Come on... lets blame the mother... anyone that stupid to let this happen to her daughter & then sit back & send her to another state.... with complete strangers to have the baby & give it up for adoption!!! To make her daughter stand up before 500 people in a church & take blame for what an adult did to her.... what the hell. I am a "Born Again Christian" and I NEVER....EVER would allow this to happen to my daughter! Shame on the mother. First, the stepfather molests this girl (now woman) and her mother obviously didn't learn anything from that! She allows ANOTHER MAN to be alone w/her daugter. It didn't dawn on her that she shouldn't let a man give her daughter driving lessons!! Give me a break....You know, I had sons & would NEVER allow a man to be alone w/my sons. There are perverts everywhere & it is the responsibility of the parents to protect their children. Her mother should never have left this situation alone... she should have pushed for this guy to be charged w/raping her daughter. Enough blaming the Pastor. Obviously he's stupid too, but the mother???!!! What excuse does she have? Its her flesh & blood.... her daughter.... (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 12:08 pm Joseph King said: Oh please Sue Rochester, Save us the sanctimonious rant. Ya, you're "born again" so you would never let this happen! (Well, unless you were convinced it was God's will). I shall use a term I revile and say "you people", i.e. those who believe they "know", appear to me to be the worst of the worst when it comes to hypocrisy. Oh but I'm sure your Pastor has it right and would never do anything to harm his flock??? By the way, the rapture happened. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 2:11 pm MARLENE GREEN said: Jeez Joseph....who pee'd in your cereal? (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 3:17 pm Anthony Stark said: Wow, Joseph - A little reading comprehension can go a long way. You seem to hate "us people", as if we're the only ones who believe we "know". You, of course, are probably the only one who really "knows". You're apparent hatred

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20110524/NEWS03/705259953[6/28/2011 3:32:14 AM]

Former pastor: Man admitted sex with 15-year-old | New Hampshire NEWS03

blinds you to what people say, just because they identify themselves as Christian. Sue is merely saying that any mother worth the title of "mother" would never leave her daughter alone with an adult male. The "born again" comment was Sue saying her faith has not changed how she parents. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 4:47 pm Sue Rochester said: @Joseph... thanks for sharing... although I don't know one person who would benefit from your comment. I see you didn't mention the stupidity of the mother....which is what my comment mainly focused on, so you must be "one of those people" .... And rest assured Mr King-Tut.... the rapture is coming, however I never thought FOR ONE MINUTE that this nut who predicted it for 5/21/11 had one ounce of truth to his prediction! I know what God says, which does not stand with what this preacher tried to do! I NEVER put faith in a human being, so I can't really say that I would can relate to stupid comments like..."my pastor would never do anything to harm his flock" ... because I would leave the church....or think for one minute that "a child being raped would be Gods will".... Can't say that I ever met anyone that stupid either.... Maybe you have??? I listed to the preaching, I read my Bible.... I pray.... and keep a FULL BALANCE of trying my best to walk in Gods will! Its typically people like you who can get people like me off track! But, its a free country!!! Atleast for now!!! You don't make yourself look very intelligent though, Mr King-Tut, by writing comments like what you shared! Just in case you wanted to know! And, by the way, I share love & hope with people, based on my own personal experiences!!! So, there's no hypocrisy here! I tell people how I was able to pull myself OUT OF situations similar to what they may be going through, because.... you know Mr. King.... I've been through A LOT!!! And I thank GOD for guiding me through all that He has!! One question for you though, keep in mind that there are VERY FEW people who would believe that something UNGODLY would be Gods will... so, with that said, you don't feel that her mother was more to blame for letting people wrong her own daughter! Would you have handled a sitution like this.... THE RAPE OF YOUR OWN DAUGHTER..... the way she did? Do you think what the mother did was OK? Get off focusing on the fact that I'm a Christian, and that obviously you feel the need to attack me for that.... and find some sort of intelligent comment regarding the article!! (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 4:54 pm Joseph King said: "keep in mind that there are VERY FEW people who would believe that something UNGODLY would be Gods will... " Sue Rochester Sue, Are you totally blind to the world around us? Just because your words are SHOUTED does not make them true. That comment is not only incorrect, but is about as far from the truth as you can get!

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20110524/NEWS03/705259953[6/28/2011 3:32:14 AM]

Former pastor: Man admitted sex with 15-year-old | New Hampshire NEWS03

Just to clarify my "you people" comment, it was not directed at Christians on whole, just the self righteous, self assured, fanatics I have had opportunity to meet, read about and watch on the daily news. Many of these have labeled themselves as "born again". (You know, the people who claim us "evolutionists" are doomed to a fiery hell). Am I including you in this category? Well after reading your second posting, I guess I'd be leaning that way. "NEVER put faith in a human being"... How sad Sue, how terribly sad. Maybe you're hanging with the wrong crowd? Of course the Mother is a nut-case and yes she probably belongs in jail for her crimes, (based on these articles at least). But it sounds as though she was just one of hundreds persecuting this 15 year old victim of rape and incest. Shame on all of them!

Anthony Stark Sorry to disappoint you Anthony. No hatred here. And I don't believe your second paragraph either.

Marleen Green, No pee in the cereal. Actually I missed breakfast this morning, maybe that's what got me riled up. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 7:31 pm Paul Lundwall said: Why did this just come to light now? the victim is now ~30 years old. I think the rape was 200% wrong but 15 years too late to report it. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 8:28 pm Anthony Stark said: No hatred, huh, Joseph? OK, maybe not towards all Christians, although I sense some backpedaling here. But your words certainly show no love of people who are "born again". Born again is not the same as fundamentalist, by the way. Born again is a much wider group. And creationists are a further subset. I stand by my second paragraph. And you'd be hard pressed to convince me that you truly attempted to read what Sue wrote after she identified herself as Born Again. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 8:47 pm almira selimovic said: Absolutely Disgusting and I truly feel that they should be put to death! (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 9:31 pm Joseph King said:

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20110524/NEWS03/705259953[6/28/2011 3:32:14 AM]

Former pastor: Man admitted sex with 15-year-old | New Hampshire NEWS03

Yes Anthony, no hatred. I've not enough time in this short life. I'll leave hatred to those who are utterly convinced they are destined for a life hereafter because they've been "saved". As for showing no love, well I guess love begins with respect and if someone chooses to introduce themselves with the boastful "born again" label, they must then earn my respect and yes, it will be an uphill battle for them. But, I've yet to meet one who seems disappointed in not receiving it or is even aware they haven't received it.... As for you standing by your second paragraph, well it is exactly this sort of black and white thinking that scares me about "you people". You say: "any mother worth the title of "mother" would never leave her daughter alone with an adult male." What kind of twisted thinking is this and where does it come from? Do you not trust even yourself Anthony? My Lord, how sad! I'll stand by my comment that maybe you're hanging with the wrong crowd. As for convincing you of anything, I'll take a pass on that one. I've had too many such conversations in the past and I'd rather go pound sand with the belief I can pack it tighter. I shall also stand by my comment that some of the biggest hypocrites I've known believe they are destined to be saved because they are believers. I think that's a bunch of hooey. And this Church just seems to be another such example. (Report Abuse) May 25, 2011 9:55 pm Eric Huether said: Sue I will have to say that "I NEVER put faith in a human being" is very disturbing to me. I am by no means very religious but for a so-called Christian to say this goes against everything I know about the faith. In my opinion and in my experience born again Christians pervert the faith. Seriously you should take a good hard look at your comments and realize how not Christian they are. (Report Abuse) May 26, 2011 9:14 am Bill Catz said: Another so-called 'pastor' bites the dust, this guy is as bad or worse than Willis and sits there yapping out the side of his neck about the whole deal. He knew about it and didn't act, was pals with the rapist and helped shuffle the girl out of state. Are there no charges that can be brought against this God-selling buzzard? (Report Abuse) May 26, 2011 11:07 pm James Stern said: It's really too bad you religious freaks didn't get raptured! (Report Abuse) May 27, 2011 4:23 pm
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http://www.unionleader.com/article/20110524/NEWS03/705259953[6/28/2011 3:32:14 AM]