Ernest Willis, New Hampshire Man, Found Guilty Of Raping 15-Year-Old Tina Anderson; Pastor Sent Teen Off To Colorado (UPDATE) 9/6/11
Ernest Willis, a 52-year-old 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.
The Associated Press reports that Ernest Willis was sentenced Tuesday to 15 to 30 years in prison for raping Tina Anderson twice in 1997. Judge Larry Smukler said that Willis “robbed the girl of her childhood.” But Willis was stoic and although he said he was “sorry and ashamed for this thoughtless act of sexual misconduct,” he never admitted to forcible rape or to a second rape. Willis’ lawyers said they are planning to appeal those convictions.
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.
New Hampshire Man Found Guilty of Rape of Tina Anderson
By SEAN DOOLEY and ALICE GOMSTYN
May 27, 2011
Ernest Willis, a New Hampshire man accused of raping and fathering a child with a 15-year-old girl from his church in 1997, was found guilty today of three counts of forcible rape and a count of felonious sexual assault.
Willis’ case drew national headlines because his victim, Tina Anderson, who gave an exclusive interview to “20/20″ last month, said she was forced to confess her “sin” — the pregnancy — in front of their congregation at Trinity Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (IFB) in Concord, N.H. The church’s then-pastor, Chuck Phelps, helped arrange for Anderson to move thousands of miles away from home to live with an IFB family and give her child up for adoption….
In an April interview with “20/20,” Anderson said that after being sexually assaulted twice by Willis, she was forced to stand before her Baptist congregation and confess her “sin” — that she had become pregnant. She said she wasn’t allowed to tell the group that the pregnancy happened because she was raped by Willis, a man twice her age.