After being raped and impregnated by a fellow churchgoer more than twice her age, a 15-year-old Concord girl was forced by Trinity Baptist Church leaders to stand before the congregation to apologize before they helped whisk her out of state, according to the police.
While her pastor, Chuck Phelps, reported the alleged rape in 1997 to state youth officials, Concord police detectives were never able to find the victim. The victim said she was sent to another church member’s home in Colorado, where she was home-schooled and not allowed to have contact with others her age. It wasn’t until this past February that the victim, who is now 28, decided to come forward after reading about other similar cases, realizing for the first time it wasn’t her fault that she had been raped, she told the police.
The police arrested Ernest Willis, 51, of Gilford, last week in connection with the case, accusing him of raping the girl twice – once in the back seat of a car he was teaching her to drive in and again after showing up at her Concord home while her parents were away. He was charged with four felonies – two counts of rape and two counts of having sex with a minor, court records show.
In a statement to the police, the victim said Willis came to her home in the summer of 1997 without warning.
“He said he wanted to talk to me about something so I let him in the house,” she wrote. “He locked the door behind him and pushed me over to the couch. I had a dress on and he pulled it off. I pushed my hands against his shoulders and said ‘No,’ but he didn’t stop.”
At the time of the alleged rape, Phelps was in touch with the police, who told him to contact the Division for Children, Youth and Families.
But moving the girl out of state prevented the police from collecting evidence or a statement, the police said yesterday.
What makes this especially despicable is what happened when the girl and her mother when to Pastor Phelps with the story:
The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for “church discipline,” where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins.
She asked why. “Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation,” the victim told the police.
“He told me that I should be happy that I didn’t live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned.”
Fran Earle, the church’s former clerk, witnessed the punishment session.
At a night meeting of the church’s fellowship in 1997, Phelps invited Willis to the front of the room. Willis apologized to the group for not being faithful to his wife, Earle said.
“I can remember saying to my husband, I don’t understand it’s any of our business why this is being brought up,” Earle said.
Phelps then told parishioners a second matter was at hand; he invited the victim to apologize for getting pregnant.
If nothing else, this should prove that it isn’t just the Catholic Church that has a problem dealing with sexual abuse
H/T: Jonathan Turley