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Entries in Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (1)

Tuesday
Sep062011

Former Church Member Ernest Willis Sentenced to Prison for Rape

Photos dot com/Jupiterimages(CONCORD, N.H.) -- A New Hampshire judge Tuesday sentenced former Baptist church member Ernest Willis to 15 to 30 years in prison for the forcible rape of a teenage girl from his church who got pregnant as a result.

The case made national headlines because the victim, Tina Anderson, said she was forced to confess her "sin" -- the pregnancy -- in front of the 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.

On Tuesday, it was Willis' turn to apologize before he was sentenced.

Ernest Willis, 52, of Gilford said he was "sorry and ashamed for this thoughtless act of sexual misconduct." But in his lengthy statement he did not admit he forcibly raped the girl.

Listening by telephone from Arizona, Anderson, now 29, said she was "thrilled" with the sentence.

Willis was arrested in 2010. A jury convicted him in May of three counts of forcible rape and a count of felonious sexual assault. His lawyers say he will appeal those convictions.

Before his trial in May, Willis pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape. He maintained they had consensual sex on one occasion only, but acknowledged the girl was under the legal age of consent.

Willis remained stoic as the judge sent him to prison for a minimum of 15 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio