Tina Anderson, Chuck Phelps Take Stand in Willis Trial

Details in the http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/258876/victim-testifies-to-sexual-... ]Concord Monitor

Monitor reporter Maddie Hanna is also tweeting from the trial http://twitter.com/#!/maddiehanna ]here

WMUR-TV is providing live updates http://livewire.wmur.com/Event/Trial_Of_Ernest_Willis_Continues ]here

UPDATE (1:30 EDT)- Chuck Phelps is taking the stand. Live updates at the links above.

2:50 PM EDT- Video footage from WMUR http://youtu.be/RJrebgIKGZI ]here

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Joshua Caucutt's picture

Thanks, I was just about to look for this link when you tweeted it.

formerly known as Coach C

Joshua Caucutt's picture

The crux of this unfortunate saga is the terrible how and why IFB has practiced church discipline over the years.

formerly known as Coach C

Don Johnson's picture

The crux of this saga is how an adult male took advantage of a young woman.

But you betray where your interest in the story lies. It isn't on the side of justice.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DavidO's picture

Don, I agree with your assesment of the "crux", but the other issues are not insignificant.

Joshua Caucutt's picture

Maybe I said it wrong . . . a better way might have been to say that as far as the reason that the broader, IFB community has been pullled into this whole thing is because of how we have carried out church discipline in an unbiblical way.

Certainly, I agree that the greatest crime was what happened to Tina.

formerly known as Coach C

Jay's picture

I think almost all of us agree that if it was actually discipline, then it was wrong. That being said, if Phelps and Willis are right, and the relationship was consensual, then discipline *may* have been warranted. That's why I want to look at the legal testimony once the dust settles.

Again - it *MAY* have been warranted. All we know is that there's two sides right now, and it doesn't look like it was done correctly. But "looking like it was done correctly" and two bucks will get you a Coke.

-edit-
Legal Testimony of Tina's Mom from Twitter is below

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dan's picture

Willis admitting he was "the aggressor" is not necessarily the same as an admission that he used force. By admitting he was "the aggressor" he was saying that Tina was not "the aggressor."

He may have meant only that he was the initiator of the encounters.

"Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy."
G.K. Chesterton

Don Johnson's picture

Moreover, do you understand the difference between a reporter's words and the actual testimony?

The cross-examination has yet to happen with respect to bro. Phelps testimony. I am sure they will pick up on the word 'aggressor' and seek to have a full and frank explanation about what that word means.

It is interesting to note that there are contradictions between the WMUR reports and the Concord Monitor's reports. The TV station says that the infamous question about 'enjoying' the encounter came from Willis' wife, not from Mrs. Phelps, as has been reported repeatedly in the paper, and also the subject of commentary and discussion on the web. Which is correct? We don't really know, do we?

Even that small discrepancy shows how foolish it is to sit as judge and jury on the internet based on news reports. The reporters often don't get the story straight, even after all this time. So how can we expect to get the story straight here?

Remember what the issue is. Think critically.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joshua Caucutt's picture

The issue about her age also seemed to be settled in court during Pastor Phelp's testimony.

Although it is a separate issue, I still have quite a few questions about the way the church discipline was handled. Why were Willis and Anderson brought before the church?

Was it because of gross, unrepentant sin as in I Corinthians 5? Or was it because of an offense against a brother? In what way was Tina "restored"? Trying to figure out what biblical model was followed here - if Willis repented when confronted privately, does Scripture still demand that he go before the church? I guess that Tina's "sin" would have become public, so that might demand some kind of public accounting . . . but boy . . .

Growing up in IFB-dom, I only remember church discipline being practiced for two things: physical immorality and alcohol use.

formerly known as Coach C

Louise Dan's picture

ag·gres·sor
–noun
a person, group, or nation that attacks first or initiates hostilities; an assailant or invader.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.

If it doesn't mean he raped her, then Phelps wrote down the wrong term.

Louise Dan's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Moreover, do you understand the difference between a reporter's words and the actual testimony?

... The reporters often don't get the story straight, even after all this time. So how can we expect to get the story straight here?

Did you watch the video? Looks like the reporter got it right, Don.

Don Johnson's picture

I am not disputing the word "aggressor", I am pointing out a difference in the reporting of a different point. Please read my post again.

The word 'aggressor' is important. I am sure the defense will not let it lie there without getting some kind of clarification. You will have to wait to see what that clarification is. One plausible scenario is suggested by dan in post # 8, there are probably other possibilities.

My point in pointing out the other discrepancy is to simply urge outside observers to let the process play itself out. It will be interesting to see how the jury takes all the testimony in the end.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jay's picture

Joshua Caucutt wrote:
The issue about her age also seemed to be settled in court during Pastor Phelp's testimony.

Although it is a separate issue, I still have quite a few questions about the way the church discipline was handled. Why were Willis and Anderson brought before the church?

Was it because of gross, unrepentant sin as in I Corinthians 5? Or was it because of an offense against a brother? In what way was Tina "restored"? Trying to figure out what biblical model was followed here - if Willis repented when confronted privately, does Scripture still demand that he go before the church? I guess that Tina's "sin" would have become public, so that might demand some kind of public accounting . . . but boy . . .


Josh-

The reason why I say that discipline *may* have been warranted for Tina is that if it was a consensual relationship when she claims that it wasn't (and Phelps, Anderson's mom, and Willis all agree on that it was consensual), and if she continued to lie about it, parcelling out bits of info as the lies were revealed, and then fought against Phelps or her mom's reporting to the cops, then yes, I might consider discipline because it's obvious that she's lying about being forcibly raped (again, because it was consensual in my hypothetical example) and also for lying about what happened to her mom, her pastor, her lover, and the church / society at large.

Now, we're back to the legal / moral question of legally she was raped (because she was underage) when in fact she was fully aware of what she did (morally, in my hypothetical example). Legally - either way, she was raped because she was a minor. Morally - is it rape if the law says it is but she's actually furthering the relationship after her 'attack'?

As for Willis, I'd say that's much, much easier. If Willis "repents" after being confronted but doesn't turn himself into the police, then I think you can and should pursue discipline because a part of repentance is bearing the consequences for your sin / actions. Furthermore, I would make the report to the police myself (if it hadn't been done already) - reporting this is mandatory by law, and failure to report can get the pastor jailed.

-edit-

I think that it's better to get some actual facts via sworn testimony and act on that than rumors and hearsay being passed around by people with agendas. As John Adams once said:

'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials' wrote:
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Louise Dan's picture

I'm sorry, Jay C., but are you still debating whether Tina should have been brought up on church discipline? Am I reading your comments correctly? If so, you are beyond out of line at this point.

"I think it's better to get some actual facts via sworn testimony ... "

Well, what court date are you waiting on? Because I've been watching two days of sworn testimony ...

Joshua Caucutt's picture

I think Jay was addressing a hypothetical.

So, based on the hypothetical and what we know, no one was "put out" from the assembly in this situation, so we have to assume that they both repented?
At what point is a person compelled to go in front of the church? Because if they repent prior to that step, they are restored...right? So, if Willis repented before his wife and pastor, why did he have to go before the congregation? Same with Tina, assuming this was a moral sin and not a legal matter, why did she have to go before the church? Did she repent after that service? Because if she repented prior, she should not have had to go through the ordeal. Is she did not repent, the Scriptural command is that she be "put out".

There seems to be no consistency with biblical instruction, hypothetical or otherwise.

formerly known as Coach C

rogercarlson's picture

Hi all,
I have alot I want to say about this. But I am going to refrain so as to not bring anything close to a mistrial. The last thing any of us want is for that to happen. I certainly don't want to see the victim go through this again.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

dan's picture

Louise Dan wrote:
ag·gres·sor
–noun
a person, group, or nation that attacks first or initiates hostilities; an assailant or invader.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.

If it doesn't mean he raped her, then Phelps wrote down the wrong term.


In a thesaurus, one if the synonyms of "aggressor" is "initiator", another is "instigator."

I'm just pointing out that in the only quote I saw, an admission of being the aggressor is not a clear admission of being an attacker - it could easily have meant initiator in the context in which it was used. It's fairly standard English usage.

"Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy."
G.K. Chesterton

pastorwesh's picture

Can't we just wait for the trial to end? It seems to me that the wisest course of action would to be to wait until all of the important information has been given under sworn testimony...then once the "facts" are out there we can really comment on those facts instead of reports, hypothetical situations, the dictionary vs. Thesaurus meanings of words, etc., etc., etc.

Proverbs 18:13

Serving the Savior, Pastor Wes Helfenbein 2 Cor. 5:17

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

pastorwesh wrote:
Can't we just wait for the trial to end? It seems to me that the wisest course of action would to be to wait until all of the important information has been given under sworn testimony...then once the "facts" are out there we can really comment on those facts instead of reports, hypothetical situations, the dictionary vs. Thesaurus meanings of words, etc., etc., etc.

Proverbs 18:13


...that would be the prudent thing to do. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused002.gif[/img ]

Jay's picture

Louise Dan wrote:
Well, what court date are you waiting on? Because I've been watching two days of sworn testimony ...

Louise, if you want facts, then why didn't you note these anywhere on these discussion threads:

* Willis claims that the relationship was consensual in his testimony
* Tina's mom reports that Tina begged her not to report it in her testimony
* Chuck has stated the name of the officer he reported it to AND the name of the employee at Youth Services in his testimony AND says that he has the a copy of the report in writing.

Or

Concord Monitor wrote:
* One of Willis's public defenders, Donna Brown, said during her opening statement yesterday that Anderson only reported having sex with Willis on one occasion when she told her mother and Phelps what happened.

And when a nurse midwife at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center examined Anderson after she became pregnant, she didn't report being raped, according to the medical records, Brown said.

Or

Concord Monitor wrote:
Anderson said she told Willis she was pregnant while they were at a restaurant in August 1997. Brown asked if that was when Willis took her to the Bedford Village Inn for her 16th birthday, and Anderson said that was possible.

Those facts are important, too.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Micheledo M's picture

I am a little amazed at the distrust of Tina and her testimony. I have read so much about victims who are terrified, scared to speak out, even of a young girl that did not admit she was raped until she was older and more removed from the situation - and no one believed her.

I have been very slow to pick sides. I have been reading blogs, news articles, personal testimonies, - on both sides of this issue. You have a young 15 year old that everyone has said was very upset, sobbing, emotional, terrified, etc. I imagine a lot of what she had to say was hard to understand. So I give a little leniency to the people saying - she never said . . .

Monday, her mother, on the stand, said Tina never said it was rape. When questioned she admitted Tina never said it was a consensual relationship. So basically, because she didn't say either way - everyone is now stating it was consensual?? That doesn't seem right. I have heard NO testimony that Tina actually said it was consensual. I have heard Tina didn't want them to go to the police, Tina was upset, . . . but doesn't that all fit the response of a terrified 15 year old, trying to do the 'right' thing?

Going back to the church discipline thing - it was handled WRONG! Ernie's was handled wrong. Why on earth, if he was brought before the church, was it not stated he was with a minor?? (And that is a whole other question I have - what grown man commits adultery with a CHILD unless there is a lot more sin in his life??) As far as Tina's discipline. Hypothetically, if it was consensual (which I don't believe), Ernie said he was the AGGRESSOR. Very strange word choice for him to use. Even so, say it wasn't rape - you have an adult man seducing a child, trying to get her to sin. Sounds like a case of a brother CAUSING a sister to sin. I just don't think church discipline is appropriate. Would we require church discipline for a teen who is coerced by a family member to cooperate in a robbery?? Maybe not a good comparison, but it is a known fact now that Ernie was the seducer (at the VERY least). He should have faced some major church discipline.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Micheledo M wrote:
I am a little amazed at the distrust of Tina and her testimony.

Please do not mistake a reluctance to draw conclusions from hearsay as 'distrust' of anyone. Only now, as information and evidence is brought forward, examined, cross-examined, is the truth going to slowly but surely come out.

Why can't we just be honest and say "We don't know what happened"? The possibilities, based on very different accounts of events, are too numerous to list. And the more we posit hypothetical scenarios about this case, the more emotional and confusing it gets.

Let's allow the trial to take place in a court of law. The only really productive thing we (those not directly involved) can do is pray for the truth to come out, that justice be done, and to consider ourselves and our churches. Are we prepared for such an occurrence in our own church? What precautions do we take to protect our young people? What kind of records are kept of counseling sessions? Do we have a Biblical and consistent church discipline policy?

We'll have plenty of time to play armchair quarterback when the trial is over, the verdict is reached, and the transcripts are available.

Micheledo M's picture

Susan R wrote:

Why can't we just be honest and say "We don't know what happened"?

This is true. We don't know. Unless we are involved in the situation, we will probably never know exactly what occurred.

It just seems that the victim (even if it was consensual - she was a victim of a predator. He WAS the aggressor) is doubted most and her motives questioned the most. Yet clear evidence is out there to show that many adult women will not speak up when attacked. Why would we expect even more from a child? And now that she is an adult and willing to speak up, why are we so fast to question her and her motives?

It is interesting to see more facts come out that support her testimony.

DavidO's picture

Joshua Caucutt wrote:
At what point is a person compelled to go in front of the church? Because if they repent prior to that step, they are restored...right? So, if Willis repented before his wife and pastor, why did he have to go before the congregation?

Isn't that a little simplistic? There was going to be a minor child carrying Willis's unborn child (Rather conspicuously, at some point) around the church. A public acknowledgement of his sin would likely be an appropriate part of true repentance.

Also, given that the time between any private statements of repentance and the time when the pregnancy would be conspicuous (had she not been sent away) might not have been long enough to guage Willis's behavior on a 2 Cor. 7:9-11 scale, some degree of "sidelining" action (up to and including being put out) would also be appropriate, no?

Or do you believe any private statement of repentence about any level of sin brings immediate, full restoration?

Jay's picture

DavidO wrote:
Joshua Caucutt wrote:
At what point is a person compelled to go in front of the church? Because if they repent prior to that step, they are restored...right? So, if Willis repented before his wife and pastor, why did he have to go before the congregation?

Isn't that a little simplistic? There was going to be a minor child carrying Willis's unborn child (Rather conspicuously, at some point) around the church. A public acknowledgement of his sin would likely be an appropriate part of true repentance.

Also, given that the time between any private statements of repentance and the time when the pregnancy would be conspicuous (had she not been sent away) might not have been long enough to guage Willis's behavior on a 2 Cor. 7:9-11 scale, some degree of "sidelining" action (up to and including being put out) would also be appropriate, no?

Or do you believe any private statement of repentence about any level of sin brings immediate, full restoration?


David,

If - and I'm just speaking of hypotheticals here - Willis is confronted, breaks down and confesses, marches himself to the police and turns himself in, and says that he sinned against the Lord and this girl, then I don't see any need to pursue church discipline, since you have 'won your brother' and his repentance is honest and clear (Matt 18:15-17); at some point, however, he needed to acknowledge that the baby was his if he's legitimately repentant. If he says that he did it but that he's not guilty of breaking the law, or refuses to acknowledge it, or refuses to turn himself in to the police, then I would pursue it further because he hasn't demonstrated "fruits of repentance" (Matt 3:8) in keeping with what he says he's sorry for.

Keep in mind that dealing with a sin issue is very different from making sure that legal justice is satisfied. The church isn't supposed to enforce the law themselves, but rather to make sure that the law notified so that they can properly deal with criminals. Again, this is if my http://sharperiron.org/comment/30083#comment-30083 ]hypothetical situation from post #17 is right.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

DavidO's picture

Jay C. wrote:
I'm just speaking of hypotheticals here - [if ] Willis is confronted, breaks down and confesses, marches himself to the police and turns himself in, and says that he sinned against the Lord and this girl, then I don't see any need to pursue church discipline, since you have 'won your brother' and his repentance is honest and clear (Matt 18:15-17); at some point, however, he needed to acknowledge that the baby was his if he's legitimately repentant.

I'd say we're more or less on the same page.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Micheledo M wrote:

It just seems that the victim (even if it was consensual - she was a victim of a predator. He WAS the aggressor) is doubted most and her motives questioned the most. Yet clear evidence is out there to show that many adult women will not speak up when attacked. Why would we expect even more from a child? And now that she is an adult and willing to speak up, why are we so fast to question her and her motives?

I agree that there appears to be a tendency to 'blame the victim', regardless of the particulars of a case. Any time we hear that someone was attacked, or a child was killed, we automatically think "What could have been done different? Could this have been prevented?" It sounds like the victim is being blamed, but I don't believe that in most cases that is the intent. If you heard that a tall bookcase fell over and killed a child, what's the first thing you'd do? Check the bookcases in your home to make sure they are sturdy, perhaps? If a woman is attacked on 44th St., are you going to avoid or be more alert in that area? Does that mean the parents deserved to lose their child because the bookcase wasn't secured? Is it the woman's fault she was walking down 44th St when a criminal decided she was his prey? But that doesn't stop us from taking note and trying to prevent similar things from happening to us and our family.

In this case, because some aren't assuming that a young girl is incapable of giving consent to a sexual relationship (in the moral but not legal sense) there are accusations of 'blaming the victim'. If the perpetrator was a 15 yob, we'd still have the same questions- was it consensual or forced? Because in either case, there are spiritual implications, albeit different ones, that have to be dealt with. As far as I'm concerned with this case, legally, it should be open & shut. He's an adult, she's a child, it's illegal. Period.

As for Pastor Phelps, the problems are not legal ones, but spiritual and ethical. That's an entirely different issue, and one that is not relevant to the legal case. There are no laws as to how churches handle discipline and counseling. If Pastor Phelps reported the incident, then he did his part, in the legal sense. The ethical case- how Tina and Willis and the families were dealt with in the church- isn't going to be determined in court, Pastor Phelps is not the one being prosecuted, and that whole situation is best left up to pastors and churches affiliated or involved with him and his church.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

A couple of posts have been unpublished for review by the moderator team.

Thanks to those who are using the flagging system to help us spot problem posts.

+End Moderator Note+

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

There's a good chance we'll not keep these Willers case threads open. As we've sometimes done in the past, we'll post news as we become aware, but I seriously doubt there is anything important we can say now that couldn't be said just as well after the whole business is over--and from that standpoint it will be much easier to judge what sort of discussion has any potential value.

(I don't think I have to point out to most people that reporting news but not allowing discussion is not "covering up" something... but for those who are foggy on that concept, there you go.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

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