Teenage rape victim was forced to confess her ‘sin’ in a fundie Baptist church

A 15-year-old rape victim was forced to stand terrified before her entire Baptist congregation in New Hampshire to confess her “sin” of having become pregnant.

Tina Anderson is shown on March 23, 1998 with her newborn daughter.

What Tina Anderson wasn’t allowed to tell the congregation was that she had become pregnant after she was raped by a church deacon, a man twice her age.

According to this report, she claimed that her pastor Chuck Phelps, of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, told her she was lucky not to have been born during Old Testament times when she would have been stoned to death.

After her confession, Anderson was sent 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.

But in February 2010, after keeping her secret for 13 years, Anderson – now a 28-year-old mother of three more children who lives in Arizona – was contacted by police and agreed to press charges against her alleged assailant, Ernest Willis, 51. Willis stands 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, 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.

Ernest Willis

Willis has been charged with four felonies — two counts of rape and two counts of having sex with a minor. He was released on $100,000 personal recognizance bail and will be arraigned June 16 in Concord District Court.

Police were alerted to the alleged crime after a group page went up on Facebook: “Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (And their Supporters).”

Matt Barnhart, 41, a former member of Anderson’s church, left a simple message: “Trinity, New Hampshire, church hid 15-year-old getting pregnant from deacon. You can contact me privately.”

The site supervisor, who runs an advocacy group for Baptists, Freedom from Abuse, alerted Concord police who culled information from a high school friend of Anderson’s to locate her.

Phelps, 51, now preaches at the Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Barnhart says he witnessed the confession just six months after he joined the church, and it bothered him for years.

Pastor Phelps was a statesman, an excellent speaker. I was always impressed by him and thought the world of him. But all that changed after that. I lost respect for him.

Willis lost the deaconship, but continued to be a member of the church “in good standing,” according to Barnhart, and girls continued to babysit for him. After some time, Willis left the church, he said.

Hat tip: Angela K


27 responses to “Teenage rape victim was forced to confess her ‘sin’ in a fundie Baptist church”

  1. Albie says:

    Since I don’t believe in hell, prison will be the next best thing for him.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s well worth watching the full newsmagazine special on this, which aired on 20/20.
    (broken into segments with commercials in between)

    By the way, remember our friend from a few weeks back who was arrested for teaching his flock to beat children with a wooden rod, as per scripture? He makes an appearance in this story. Apparently he was IFB, too.

  3. Dave Gilbert says:

    The religious will no doubt claim that the likes of Deacon Ernest Willis are from a small minority in the church and this is true, he is a heterosexual rapist (allegedly).

  4. Broga says:

    My first thought, on reading this, is about how many victims of rape by church members are still silent, still not daring to speak. How many at this very time are still being sexually abused as priests, pastors, deacons etc satisfy their perverted lusts with the bodies of their victims. The priests etc still have good reason to feel safe because of the mores of religion and the horrendous example here provides a paradigm.

    The abuser is respected, even revered, not for his excellent qualities but because of a role within the church. The attraction of this status for so many cynical mediocrities is clear.

    The victim, often a child, trusts and is ready prey for the abuser. Bewildered and terrified the abuser’s threats many be enough to keep the child quiet.

    Should the child speak then the church protective/defensive mechanism comes into play. The victim is blamed, the abuser excused, and the power of the church in the form of its hierarchy kicks in to threaten the victim.

    This report is an example of a common approach. RC priests are seen to be incapable of behaving like this so when at risk of exposure they are protected, hidden and moved. All the burden falls on the child victim and it is little wonder that they wait so long before speaking about their ordeal. However long the gap between crime and exposure, and in the interim these scum still function in their churches, they must be punished. The publicity attaching to punishment may encourage current victims in coming forward.

    The treatment of the young girl in this case, standing before a congregation of self righteous and pitiless bigots chills the blood.

  5. Dave Gilbert says:

    Well said Broga.

    “The treatment of the young girl in this case, standing before a congregation of self righteous and pitiless bigots chills the blood”.

    Moreover, as with the many cases that have come to the Humanist’s attention, this implicates the whole church in their vile coverups. As The Hitch says, “Religion poisons everything”.

  6. Talitha says:

    If he gives her 50 Sheckels then they are as good as married.
    Once money changes hands then the matter is settled

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29
    If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
    Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

    Once he comes out of prison they can enjoy a happy future together as a Christian couple.

    God Bless

  7. tony e says:

    Another week and yet another story of some poor kid getting abused by their local pastor/imam/priest and then the church trying to cover it up.

    It appear almost a requisite that to be a ‘messenger of god’ that you have to be a paedo.

    May I suggest to the various churches that in order to become a pastor/imam/priest that they all take lie detector tests beforehand, or would that leave us with no one to spread the word?

    For me that would seem a win/win exercise.

  8. Anonymous says:

    A comment from the Facebook page:

    I have heard that Bob Jones III sent out an email to his Board of Trustees telling them to watch 20/20 online Saturday night. I’m assuming the email included a description of HOW they should think about it too and how they should talk about it with everyone. Even scripting the exact response.

    That would be this Bob Jones:

  9. Broga says:

    A few additionals points:

    The Bob Jones University is the same vicious outfit that conferred a “doctorate” on the ranting Ian Paisley. Mr Paisley was, and is, always referred to reverentially on the BBC as “Dr” and doesn’t he just love it. If it’s that easy I think I will make my dog a “Dr”.

    I see Pastor Phelps is still functioning and appears to be still in a starring role. Tells you all you need to know about ethics, decency and “suffer little children” approach in his church. Should he not be booted out pronto. There should be a publicity campaign to expose and get rid of him.

    And lastly. Can you imagine that congregation sitting there while they watched a young pregnant girl being humiliated, cursed in fact, and all under the cold, and knowing, gaze of Pastor Phelps. If you, yes even you as a consigned to hell as an atheist, had been in that congregation could you have kept quite? There they sat, all these self righteous prigs, hugging themselves in their phony virtue, while this young woman, raped by their deacon, sobs out her confession. And then they expel her from the area.

  10. Daz says:

    Does anyone else here ever sit with their hands on the keyboard, wanting to say something—knowing they should say something—but unable to come up with anything nasty (or cogent) enough to say about stories like this?

    Sick! Just sick.

  11. shargraves says:

    I’m with you entirely Daz. How come this unending catalogue of despicable crimes that pours forth daily from the adherents of anti-human doctrines known as “religion” – isn’t commented on more.

    It’s incomprehensible to me how these utter savages, these base, disgusting, degenerates of all “faiths” prey on the vulnerable, without anything like adequate condemnation or censure for their hate-cults in the media, while they witter to their own imaginations for forgiveness.

    It makes me fucking sick. How dare they shirk their massive crimes against humanity, yet claim absolute morality in their chosen imaginary deathmonger.

    The blood of every child, woman, and man, that they stone, rape, behead or torture is on their hands, as justified by their own medieval books of murderous hate. I’m not sorry to say, that humanity has matured far beyond the freakish hatreds of the goat herding primitives of the middle east from the bronze age – and we can see the crimes that are committed by their followers now as clear as day – the problem is religion – why is nothing being said to wipe out this mental sickness. I despair – there’s always some snivelling excuse.

  12. AngieRS says:

    Well, when he’s convicted and jailed, he’ll be getting a taste of what he did to her, hopefully.

  13. Lisa says:

    Eight years ago my daughter (then 4 years old) was kidnapped from our church by the son of the district superintendent of the United Methodist Churches in our area. Thankfully, we found them before the guy had a chance to do much to her. During my own investigation, talking to others, I discovered that man had been molesting/raping a child (aged 2-4) for 2 years and the church (and the child’s aunt) was aware of it! They continued to allow the man to be left alone with that little girl in the Sunday School room every Sunday, knowing what was going on. In fact, they WALKED IN ON HIM MOLESTING THAT GIRL when the girl was just 2 years old and STILL they left that man alone with her.

    Eventually I had to be the one to tell the child’s parents what was going on. They pressed charges, and the guy served 2 years in jail. He never served time for kidnapping my daughter, though. *grrr*

    When I tried to talk to the parents in the church about the abuse that took place in the Sunday School room, I was told to keep quiet, and I was dismissed. Members of the congregation told me that we needed to practice forgiveness and be like Jesus. B.S.! I left the church not long after this incident when the pastor did a sermon on how the Devil had infiltrated their church in the form of an unforgiving person (me)! I walked out, never to go to church again.

    The newspaper only had a little blurb about the guy being sentenced to jail, but they never mentioned that the abuse happened at the church or that the man was the son of the District Superintendents of the church, had attended multiple churches in the area, and had access to a lot of children.

    I was made out to be the bad guy by the church because I was a mother who tried to seek justice against the man who kidnapped my daughter, made her do inappropriate things in front of him, and who raped a baby for 2 years.

  14. NeoWolfe says:

    Thank you Angela, and you too Anon.

    This story blew my mind. Mostly because I understand the mindset of minors in fundamentalist families.

    But Broga said:

    “This report is an example of a common approach. RC priests are seen to be incapable of behaving like this so when at risk of exposure they are protected, hidden and moved. ”

    While that is definitely true, this case involves baptists, protestants. It’s much bigger. This makes it more than RCC, this is religion in general. While I am tempted to shed a tear for this poor girl, I would also have to shed a tear for me. I am past that, and I sincerely hope she is too. It sounds like she is.


  15. Lannea says:

    Are these the same extreme religious people that want to force My morality to their liking? No Thanks

  16. Aaron says:

    To get the real facts, see documents, statements from the “victim’s” mom and reports made to police, showing there’s another side to this story that doesn’t sell quite as well as you’d like to think.

  17. Bob Fairlane says:

    This is the kind of thing that happens because of gullible white people following a stupid jewish religion.

  18. Stuart H. says:

    There was a very similar case here a decade ago. What made it even worse was that, apart from local victims, I even caught him out preying on teenagers who came here courtesy of a ‘Christian charity’ which gave holidays to kids from Chernobyl. How sick can you get? Needless to say, the Chernobyl kids were rushed away after I informed a church elder I then thought might be decent enough to step in, and families of local victims had to leave the church involved, and the area, after attempts by colleagues of the kiddy-fiddling cleric to get them not to testify agaisnt a ‘good man’ who had just been ‘led into temptation’ by shameless 13 year old harlots in the service of the Devil – or some such claptrap.
    Maybe one of the other things this case shows is that even mainstream evangelical cults use similar tactics to career paedophiles. Both pick on socially isolated people, and in effect groom them. They draw them into social set-ups where they sacrifice even the limited power and money they have to their abusers…..think you all get the general idea. When the abusers get right out of hand, who do the victims have to run to, especially if a church in a small community has allies who include the local police and politicians who, far from stopping the abuse, put the abusers up for government grants and places on social service schemes?
    We need to get past just muttering online about these pondlife. We need to look at our local communities, see how they interact with local government and social life, and put them right out of business.

  19. JohnMWhite says:

    Yes Aaron, that site you’ve linked to looks entirely credible and not remotely biased in favour of religious institutions. It is always good to hear from the “victims” of “false allegations”. Almost as good as it is to put quote marks around “victims” to denigrate the suffering of real human beings…

    These stories are not uncommon, and they tend to follow very similar patterns with recurring features. This is not merely a few bad apples, there is something systemic about these religious communities that seems to, if not foster this kind of behaviour, certainly enable it. The power faith holds over people’s minds and souls is incredibly dangerous if it breaks people to the point they would willingly put their children in harm’s way – and I genuinely believe it is designed to do so. Not specifically for the kicks of a few paedophiles, though I have no doubt that turned out to be a happy coincidence for a certain class of conscienceless creeps, but for the fact that once you have control of the children, you have control of the future and you can keep your racket going in perpetuity.

  20. Harry says:

    Yeah, if there’s a point to that link aside from third parties saying “Oh no he didn’t” then please link to the specific page and give context.

    All I see is a lot of brainwashed cultists slandering Tina in an attempt to divert blame from the man who raped her.

  21. NeoWolfe says:

    I agree, Harry,

    I would have been more skeptical, if I had read some written statement. But, I watched the interview, and I saw a girl who bares battlescars telling my story, as I would tell it.

    And I read the documents on Aaron’s link. And I suspect he’s a genuine freethinker. He wants to hear both sides before he forms an opinion. I like that. Good policy. I would have done the same if I hadn’t heard her testimony. And something was conspicuously missing from the bottom of the documents. A little paragraph that says, “under penalty of perjury, I swear that the above is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge”.

    And the good pastor says that the girl came before the congregation of her own free will. There is probably a tiny grain of truth in that, along with a huge raft of bullshit. She was fifteen, what was she going to do, tell her entire support structure to fuck off? Go it alone? I suspect she was given an ultimatum to take the blame or lose her family and friends. And she probably did insist on leaving town, as an alternative to confronting her rapist in church. Another tiny grain of truth. The mother said, “she seemed to be happy”, that’s what not seeing your rapist every Sunday can do for you.

    On the other side of the coin, at the age of 26, I was approached by a fifteen year old girl, a slight bit pudgy, but pretty face, who made it obvious she wanted to swap bodily fluids. I wisely declined. The point, fifteen year old nymphos do exist.


  22. “Pastor” Phelps would do well to read up on his Hebrew Testament before ever deigning to “counsel” a frightened little girl about her pregnancy and its possible “punishments”:

    “If a man commits adultery with a married or unmarried woman, both the man and the woman, the adulterer and adulteress, must be put to death. Further, if a man has sex with his father’s wife, he has violated his father. Both the man and woman must be put to death; they are responsible for their own deaths.” Lev. 20:10-11

    As Bob Dylan observed, “Ever’body must get stoned.”

    Of course, “Pastor” Phelps is a fundament-alist, and the word fundamentalist has an enlightening etymology:

    Fundamentalist –

    Fundament: Of or pertaining to the anus, buttocks, or nether regions

    -al: pertaining to

    -ist: dealer, doer

    Thus, a fundamentalist is a doer/dealer of things pertaining to the anus, buttocks, or nether regions.

    Here’s one of my favorite takes on the fundamentalist notion of the “rapture”:

  23. 762Nato says:

    Now imagine that Phelps were instead an Imam.

    Would he endure the same criticism? Or would criticism be met by liberals with scathing decrees of racism and Islamophobia?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Take your gun-totin’ nym elsewhere, bud.

  25. Elizabeth says:

    This is the kind of “Church” that makes people hate Christians. I grew up going to church and I was lucky enough to be in one with members who were good people. No one in my church is perfect…we all have problems that we face…but I can guarantee that if this were ever to happen it would be reported as soon as someone found out. It certainly would not be encouraged. And instead of sending the girl away, she would have a very strong support group.

    Stories like this make me sick. I know that most of the people reading this are probably atheists and will disagree with me…but regardless of what punishment this creep gets while he’s alive…he will have to face God one day and he will pay for it then too.

    There are many “churches” that pose as Christians but don’t follow Christ’s teachings. Even more than that…there are many groups of Baptists. A Southern Baptist is very different from an Independent Baptist (in preaching style and in doctrine). Don’t judge all of us based on the actions of a few.

  26. AverageSchmuck says:

    After being raised in that religious environment and seeing the daily comings and goings of a Southern Baptist church, I can tell you that in my experience you find way more evil in the church than you do in the groups they try hard to tell us are evil. What I can also see is that because religion is a way to control people, through fear with a sprinkling of hope for the desperate, it is a breeding ground for power hungry people to find a way to feel like they are powerful. More people were killed in the name of religion over the course of human history than anything else. It is time to ban this ancient superstitious belief all together. I am not talking about just the christian religions either. They should all go!