Victims hope for jail term in church child sex case
We hope that Willis is locked up for a long time so he won’t be able to hurt any more children. And we hope that other church officials – who concealed his crime and shamed his victim – will also be held responsible in court for their incredible and inexcusable callousness.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Ernest Willis, New Hampshire Man, Found Guilty Of Raping 15-Year-Old Tina Anderson; Pastor Sent Teen Off To Colorado
Earnest Willis, 52, a New Hampshire man, was found guilty of raping and impregnating a 15-year-old girl from his church who was shipped to Colorado by church leaders to give birth to his baby. Willis faces up to 54 years in prison for the sexual assault, The Denver Post reports. Willis will be sentenced Tuesday in Merrimack Superior Court.
Tina Anderson, who was 15 at the time of the rape, knew Willis from babysitting his children and from attending the same fundamentalist Baptist church in Concord, N.H.. The church pastor made young Anderson apologize to the congregation when she discovered that she was pregnant, but she was not allowed to tell the church goers that the pregnancy occurred because she was raped. With the consent of Anderson’s mother, the pastor then shipped the teenager to the home of a Colorado couple that she didn’t know and arranged for her baby to be adopted, according to ABC News.
7News reports that Wayne Coull, prosecutor in the case, told jurors that Anderson “got shamed, shunned, silenced and sent away.”
Concord police had shelved the case back in 1997 when they couldn’t locate the victim, completely unaware she’d been moved to Colorado. But in 2010 they revived the case when they learned of her whereabouts, according to CBSDenver.
The girl was located, now as an adult, with the help of an online website for former Fundamentalist Baptists.
Matt Barnhart, a former member of the Trinity Baptist Church who witnessed the day that Anderson was shamed and forced to apologize to the church described the event just last year on a website maintained by a group called “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist cult survivors,” the Houston Chronicle reports. The website founder contacted Barnhart and learned the girl’s identity and passed the information along to Concord police.
After 13 years of keeping this secret, Anderson, now 29 and living in Arizona with her husband and three children, was contacted by police in 2010 to finally make a statement about the events of 1997, according to the UK Daily Mail.
The Associated Press reports that Anderson made this statement to the court:
When Ernie raped me, he destroyed the person I was and, in that moment, filled me with shame and guilt that I’ve battled against repeatedly. When he decided that his sexual gratification was the most important thing in his life, he shattered mine.