Church Member Pleads Guilty To Rape Of Babysitter

N.H. Church Leaders Sent Pregnant 15-Year-Old Girl To Colorado To Have Baby

A New Hampshire man pleaded guilty Tuesday to raping a 15-year-old fellow church member who became pregnant and was later shipped to Colorado by church leaders to have her baby.

Ernest Willis admitted that he raped and impregnated his children's babysitter, Tina Anderson, in 1997. He maintains that the sex was consensual but acknowledges that the girl was under the legal age of consent.

Tina Anderson told ABC News she was forced to stand terrified before her entire fundamentalist Baptist church congregation to confess her "sin" -- that she had become pregnant.

What the teen wasn't allowed to tell the group was that the pregnancy was the result of being raped by Willis, a fellow church member who was twice her age.

Anderson, now 29 and living in Arizona, said when her mother learned she was pregnant, she took her daughter to former Trinity Baptist Church pastor Chuck Phelps for counseling.

Anderson said Phelps arranged to relocate her to live with a Baptist family in Colorado and put her baby up for adoption. She was homeschooled and reportedly barred from seeing others her age until she gave her child up for adoption.

"I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened," a tearful Anderson told ABC News last year. "I truly believed that it was my fault."

Anderson said Phelps told her she was lucky not to have been born during Old Testament times when she would have been stoned to death.

Church officials crafted the speech she had deliver to the Concord church congregation.

Anderson said Phelps' wife even asked her, "Did you enjoy it?"

That was only the first step in Anderson's "church discipline," one of many ritual practices in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (IFB), which Anderson, now more than a decade later, says preys on the vulnerable, ABC News reported.

All the years that she lived with the memory of the alleged abuse, she held it in tight. "You are told not to talk about it," according to Anderson, who also accuses the pastor of concealing her whereabouts.

Concord police said they tried to investigate the rape allegations in 1997 but couldn't find Anderson.

Yet, in February 2010, after keeping her secret for 13 years, Anderson -- now a mother of three more children -- was located by police and agreed to press charges.

Willis still faces a trial scheduled to start next week on three counts of forcible rape. Anderson is expected to testify.

Willis faces up to 7 years in prison on Tuesday's guilty plea.

Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler said he would pronounce Willis guilty on the charge of felonious sexual assault once the jury returns its verdicts on the other charges. But he said that even if the trial ends in a mistrial, Willis' guilty plea would stand.

Smukler ruled Tuesday that prosecutors cannot introduce evidence that Willis offered to punch the teen in the stomach to trigger a miscarriage. The judge said that, particularly in light of Willis' admission that he had sex with Anderson, her testimony about Willis' offer to punch her was irrelevant and inflammatory.

Prosecutor Wayne Coull objected to the judge's ruling, saying of Willis: "He offered to use violence on this child … to conceal the crime."

Smukler also ruled that Anderson couldn't use the term "cult" in describing her experiences with Trinity Baptist Church or her involvement with the fundamentalist Baptist religion in general. She had attended Trinity Baptist Church since she was 15.

Smukler has yet to rule on whether Phelps must testify about admissions Willis made to him about the alleged assaults. Willis' lawyers claim that they are privileged. Coull argued that Phelps had a lawyer present during the conversations and that undermines any privilege between a member of the clergy and a congregant.

The penalty for aggravated felonious sexual assault is 10 to 20 years.

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