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Baptist fundie found guilty of rape

A 52-year-old member of a fundamentalist Baptist church in New Hampshire faces up to 54 years in prison after he was found guilty on Friday of raping his children’s 15-year-old baby sitter, who belonged to the same church, more than a decade ago.

The case involving Ernest Willis of Gilford garnered national attention because Concord’s Trinity Baptist Church which he and Tina Anderson, now 29, attended forced her to apologize to the congregation for the “crime” of  having become pregnant.

Ernest Willis

Before his trial, Willis pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape but denied he forcibly raped Anderson twice in 1997. She said it happened once while he was giving her driving lessons and again at her home weeks later. Willis testified that the two had sex on only one occasion and it was consensual.

In her victim impact statement, Anderson said she was devastated when she learned she was pregnant, then heartbroken when she had to put her daughter up for adoption. She also said the rape has had ripple effects on her marriage and the upbringing of her other three children.

The case that lay dormant for well over a decade was resuscitated in large part through the Internet.

Matt Barnhart, a former Trinity Baptist Church member, witnessed Anderson’s “church discipline” session in 1997. His wife testified she was “mortified” by what the church did to the teen.

Barnhart made reference to the session on a blog maintained by a group called Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) cult survivors. The website’s founder, Jocelyn Zichterman of Oregon, managed to locate Anderson, and passed the information along to Concord police, and Willis was arrested.

Zichterman and about two dozen men and women she described as survivors of IFB church abuse, attended the five-day trial, many wearing teal — the color embraced by rape victims. She said:

Tina Anderson is a hero today, because of her incredible courage. We hope Tina can now move on with her life and find a sense of peace.

19 Responses to “Baptist fundie found guilty of rape”

  1. Milz says:

    What a brave woman, i’m so glad that justice has been done.

  2. JohnMWhite says:

    It takes a lot of courage and determination to allow traumas like this to be brought back to the surface for the sake of a trial. Anderson should be proud. She, along with the court and the survivors’ group that brought the matter back into focus have done us all a great service by reminding the fundamentalist cultists that closing ranks, hiding abuse and furthering the impact of that abuse on its victims is disgusting, criminal and completely unacceptable to civilised society, and we are keeping an eye on you all.

  3. remigius says:

    I hope everyone of those bastards who were in the congregation that day is hanging their head in shame…but I bet they’re not.

  4. tony e says:

    The good thing is that Willis will now have a couple of decades, in an American prison, to learn the correct definition of ‘consensual’.

  5. Tom Human says:

    VERY glad this awful, awful person is being put away for ever for his crimes.

    > The good thing is that Willis will now have a couple of decades, in an American prison, to learn the correct definition of ‘consensual’.

    This is nothing to brag about. The fact that the US has a third-world jail system whose inmates, many of whom aren’t the monsters this guy is, are subject to gang rape and worse, makes me ashamed.

    I used to get sad too at the endless gloating mentions of this in every internet thread involving crimes or criminals, but then I realized that a lot of people simply get turned on by the idea of homosexual prison rape, so now I just laugh at them.

  6. barriejohn says:

    OT: Bad news for the Catholic Church.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13588834

  7. Robster says:

    Does anyone know what percentage of people convicted of sex and child sex offences and are now in prison who were/are employed as clerics as in pastors, ministers, priests, chaplains, rabbi’s(?) and imams etc? Day in day out, there seems to be a non stop passing parade of people employed in religious organisations as “religious leaders” facing chages of rape and child rape. Child rape seems to be their favourite. It would be interesting to know the percentage.

  8. Susan says:

    Amateurs.

    Had this taken place in the Catholic Church, hush money would have been paid, a priest would have been shuffled, and a bishop would have been promoted.

  9. Shaun says:

    People = Shit

  10. AgentCormac says:

    barriejohn

    That really is a great result – the RCC had been campaigning very hard there to get its ‘flock’ to vote No. Just shows how out of touch it is with what ordinary, modern people want and need.

  11. remigius says:

    What is it with these evangelical types? Whenever you see them, either on the telly, in the street, or on your own soddin’ doorstep, they’ve always got a bloody big smile on their smug little face. But as soon as they get caught it’s a different story.

    Cheer up Mr Willis. Jesus still loves you!

  12. barriejohn says:

    Yes, Remigius: he loves the sinner but hates the sin!

  13. tony e says:

    @Tom Human,

    Willis will now go through the same pain, shame, humiliation, fear and guilt that he REPEATEDLY inflicted on an UNDERAGE child.

    Given what this girl experienced, at the hands of this ‘man of god’, I simply cannot feel pity for him.

  14. remigius says:

    …and speaking of on the telly did anyone else see the wonderful Kate Smurthwaite on The Big Question yesterday? Surrounded imams, priests, rabbi’s and other dickheads explaining their beliefs, she said that she didn’t believe in things without evidence because she was not an idiot! Brilliant.

    That has to be my all-time favourite quote from a Sunday morning religious show.

  15. Lucy says:

    Missed that. What was the reaction?

    Just read ‘leaving the Saints’ Martha Beck. About Mormons.

    Apart from the sexual abuse part of the book, which confirms the religious power = sexual exploitation theme, it is mainly rivetting about Mormonism. Her conclusions are that 1) Mormons are as a group the most loving, generous and supportive people (to their own), 2)the beliefs are ludicrous 3) the organisation is evil. This describes most religions.

    For most people the evidence of the truth of their relision is their experience of 1) above. To say that the beliefs are not true seems to deny the truth of 1)

  16. remigius says:

    Lucy. It was a typical BBC religious show reaction. Jeers and tuts from the audience. Nicky Campbell looking a bit of a tit shocked when he realised what she said. Camera pans away and quickly to another speaker. It should be on iPlayer. If it is then ff to the last 15 minutes or so. I can’t check or send a link cos I don’t have access to the internet.

  17. David Anderson says:

    Shaun:

    Religious people=Shit

    FIFY

  18. fgsfds says:

    “… but denied he forcibly raped Anderson twice in 1997.”

    You mean there’s another kind of rape? Who knew?