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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rogercarlson's picture

there is at least one other reason that came out in discovery but did not end up getting made public at trial. It could have been a part of a rebuttal witness testimony but was deemed not needed for the case by the prosecution. Two witnesses that confronted Chuck Phelps after the church discipline/confession/compassion session both said they were told that Tina was young and would be able to get over it. Ernie had a family that needed to be protected.

If the abovue quote from LJ Moody is correct, this is wicked and shameful. I think this is another question for Chuck Phelps to answer directly. Those who know him, should ask him. Mrs. Moody, thank you again for giving us a first hand account of the trial. You are right, Chuck Phelps should specifically seek Tina's forgiveness. There are plenty of ways to reach out to her.

Greg,

The above quote quote from Mrs. Moody may not mean cover-up. That is not what I am implying. But it shows a deep problem in judgment. If the logic was that "Ernie had a family that needed to be protected" we have a serious problem. That goes against so much Biblical teaching that is obvious to us all.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

rogercarlson's picture

Another thing that the trial has pointed out to me. There is absolutely no justification in allowing Willis to walk freely among the church after this incident. If it is true that he accompanied children on field trips as a criminal is inexcusable. I hope that was not accurate and that he did not. Either way, sex offeneder who attend need to be watched and monitored.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Dave Doran's picture

Laurie,

I have not been able to determine clearly who was behind the effort to have Chuck Phelps' notes excluded from the trial on the basis of privilege. Was it the defense or was it CLA?

DMD

PLewis's picture

Dave Doran wrote:
Laurie,

I have not been able to determine clearly who was behind the effort to have Chuck Phelps' notes excluded from the trial on the basis of privilege. Was it the defense or was it CLA?

I'm wondering that as well.

Looking forward to the transcripts coming out .. (though the question of the notes being excluded probably wouldn't be in that would it?) ..

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
On the witness stand, Chuck did testify to one call. The Concord Police do not have a record of the call. However, at the time (and still to this day), a call is not enough to report. A written report is required. Chuck said he was told papers for him to fill out would be sent but he did not get them. By his testimony he knew he was supposed to fill out a written report and he did not do it. Concord Police also testified that a written report was never made.

That is helpful information. In some states, all that is required is a phone call, but even 'just a phone call' entails answering detailed questions, such as the name, address, and age of the victim, any information you have about the abuser, and your own contact information (although I think most states accept anonymous reports).

But if in accordance with the reporting requirements at the time, the police tell you that a written report is also required, and you fail to pursue the matter because you did not receive said paperwork... well, that sounds rather negligent, doesn't it? I mean, here you are, the pastor of a church, and you can't remember to file a written police report about an adult having sex with an underage girl? We aren't talking about forgetting to pay a parking ticket, KWIM?

All of the information I've heard heretofore was that Pastor Phelps made a proper report and that the police never followed up. With Tina being below the age of consent, the PD should have followed up regardless, so it sounds like a game of hot potato, with a young girl being tossed to and fro, and nary a responsible, sensible, caring adult to be found.

LJ Moody's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
I do think that your last paragraph is the biggest issue in regards to Phelps' management of the situation. Reports I recall seeing do affirm that he placed calls to Concord PD, and that they in fact did begin to pursue the matter before it was eventually dropped because they could not locate the victim. Was it concluded otherwise in court?

Sorry! I missed this last part. The testimony given by Det. Gagnon said he was following up on a referral from DCYF, which is why he called Chris Leaf (Tina's mom) and Chuck Phelps. He did not state Chuck made the call or dispute it. As I understood the testimony, Chuck said he made a call, which was not disputed. There is no record of a call but it is not disputed. Does that make sense? I'm trying to stick only to what was said in court. Gagnon said that Chuck Phelps did not return his call. I will have to defer to the transcript for how many times Gagnon said he attempted to call Chuck. i think I remember this question being asked, but I am not sure.

The detective said the matter was dropped because he could not locate the victim. Chuck and Chris were both asked if they notified police that Tina would be moved to another state during their testimony. Chuck said no (paraphrased--it was a longer answer), and Chris gave a non-answer "they didn't ask."

LJ Moody's picture

Dave Doran wrote:
Laurie,
I have not been able to determine clearly who was behind the effort to have Chuck Phelps' notes excluded from the trial on the basis of privilege. Was it the defense or was it CLA?

Dave,
I'm not entirely sure who was in the chambers with the judge when this was addressed. I will give you my understanding based on what I saw/heard in the courtroom.

David Gibbs III was there with his son (guessing 10/11/12 years old). Gibbs talked with Phelps during a couple of the breaks while Phelps was still on the stand. Based on his presence in the courtroom until Phelps was done testifying and what I overheard at one point, I believe Gibbs was acting as Phelps' attorney. I don't know if that was on his own--or under the auspices of the CLA.

Chuck said on the stand that Brian Fuller released his notes to the Concord Police without his permission. He emphasized this point with some strength. He did not want his notes to be public for the trial. When the judge came back from considering everything and made his ruling, he spoke directly to Chuck on the stand and said something along the lines of: I know you were concerned about saying what was in your notes. The court is compelling you to answer the questions from the court.

I got the impression that Gibbs spoke on his behalf to say his notes should be privileged, simply because he was clearly there to protect Phelps' interest/concerns, but I am not at all sure that is the case. The only one I know to ask is Wayne Coull (prosecutor) and I am not sure I have standing to even ask that.

The defense did not want Chuck's notes to be released.

The basic parts of the ruling were that privilege was ignored when Phelps sent the notes to Fuller and also Chuck's website (drchuckphelps.com) had released information contained within the notes. The website was a matter of lengthy discussion during that part of the hearing. The jury was out of the room for that part until the ruling was made by the judge.

The judge will be issuing that ruling in writing and I assume it will be a part of the public record for the case. Nothing has been sealed.

I don't know if this answer helps or not. I'm not trying to be indirect, but I know my initial answer would have been -- both tried to keep the notes out. But as I thought about it, that was based on courtroom impressions and what the judge said during his ruling. I really don't know who argued what outside the courtroom. There were several hearings outside the presence of the jury but in the courtroom and several more outside the courtroom altogether.

Laurie Moody

Dave Doran's picture

Laurie,

Thank you for that explanation. It makes sense. I certainly figured, given their contents, that the defense would want to have the notes excluded. The live feed from WMUR said that it was Phelps' lawyer, but that seemed odd to me in that Gibbs was not formally involved in the trial (but I'll have to confess that its apparent oddity may be only because of my ignorance regarding legal wranglings). That the judge had conversations about it with Chuck Phelps suggests that the concern was coming from his corner.

In regard to the conversation above about phone calls to the police, the WMUR live feed from the court contains this on the third day (while Officer Gagnon is being cross-examined by the defense):

Quote:
Brooksley Belanger on cross examination of former officer Gagnon. One question: Did Phelps talk with Lt. Cross? Yes. Did Phelps report to DCYF? yes. no further questions.

Although it doesn't address the issue of whether a police report was filed, this does seem to nail down the question of whether he talked to the police and DCYF (although the latter doesn't seem in dispute).

DMD

LJ Moody's picture

Susan R wrote:
But if in accordance with the reporting requirements at the time, the police tell you that a written report is also required, and you fail to pursue the matter because you did not receive said paperwork... well, that sounds rather negligent, doesn't it? I mean, here you are, the pastor of a church, and you can't remember to file a written police report about an adult having sex with an underage girl? We aren't talking about forgetting to pay a parking ticket, KWIM?

I'm really trying to avoid giving opinion here. I think it is probably obvious that I must have felt strongly enough about supporting Tina to drive 16 hours to NH to be there for/with her at the trial. I babysat her--I knew her from the time she was just a little thing--2 or 3 years old. I said on Bob Bixby's blog that there were other things I could have said that revealed Chris Leaf's mindset and way of doing things, but I just didn't think it would be appropriate to say more than I did. Now that everything is over, I can say that Sue Cappucci (a witness during the trial) was the one that called to tell me about the church discipline/confession/compassion session the night it took place. She knew of my care for both Tina and Tom. After Tina spoke with the police last spring, she, Tom and I reconnected through facebook. Everything Tina told me is exactly what Sue told me from both the 1997 church incident, what her sister Sarah told her, what she said to Chuck and Linda afterwards, their responses, and what Tina wrote in an essay that Sue graded in 1998 once Tina returned to NH. My own experiences at Trinity Baptist Concord, while a member led me to find everything within the full realm of believability. Also, I grew up in a Hyles' style IFB church. Nothing that was done or said as a part of this whole situation surprised me. I had witnessed other public church discipline/confession/compassion meetings exactly like the one Tina described and others gave testimony about at Trinity while a member and at every other church I attended within fundamentalism.

I had always heard such services referred to as church discipline. Other witnesses did as well, but one of them said he thought of it as a "confession" session because no one was voted off church membership during that meeting. On the witness stand, Chuck referred to it as a chance to show compassion--neither discipline or confession. Given that the note Tina was helped to write by a church leader at the time, included terms such as asking forgiveness from God and the church, I don't think anyone really believed that the purpose of the meeting was to offer compassion since a child was obviously going to be born.

LJ Moody's picture

I did have that in my notes about Lt. Cross, but didn't mention it here because I didn't know who it was. I did not remember that name as coming from Chuck's notes. I just want to reiterate that I'm trying to stay focused only on what I remember from court. My niece is transcribing her notes--probably 20 handwritten pages. I have some notes too. My main purpose in being there was to give physical/emotional/spiritual support to Tina. It was easier to leave most of the note taking to others.

Leah, you asked about the transcript. Sue Cappucci plans to get a copy as soon as they are available. I will scan them and publish them online. Even though tone cannot be discernible from the written transcript, it is still the best record of what was said in the courtroom.

There was a very long interview recording played during the trial--the defense fought its admission very strongly. That was the recording of the interview between Det. DeAngelis and Ernie Willis when he was first called in for questioning in 2010. I do not know if the recording will be transcribed for the record or not (in the transcripts).

If it is possible to get an audio recording, it might be worth it for some of you. Then you can try to ascertain tone.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
The basic parts of the ruling were that privilege was ignored when Phelps sent the notes to Fuller and also Chuck's website (drchuckphelps.com) had released information contained within the notes. The website was a matter of lengthy discussion during that part of the hearing.

This is why attorneys will recommend strongly to their clients to put a lid on it until the case is over. Anything information you share, not to mention publish, is fair game.

Ron Bean's picture

When Phelps contacted the Concord PD, what if they asked him "How old is the girl?"
"She's 16."
That could explain the PD's lack of urgency.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

LJ Moody's picture

I know my testimony as stated on Bob Bixby's blog will remove me from being a credible witness in the minds of some readers/posters. I did think from my presence in the courtroom all week I had some things to which I could add factual information after reading the posts.

I want to represent myself honestly and fairly to you all. I understand that some of you may have questions about my veracity and want to assure you that your questions are okay with me. Please feel free to ask anything that you think may help you have the clearest perspective of the facts and my support for Tina.

I would like to add that though my own personal faith has undergone challenges because of my experiences and those of my siblings, I have clung desperately to what I knew to be truth from the Bible. I know for a fact that when my faith wasn't strong enough God was holding me. Like Tina, I believe that even the things I experienced at the hands of abusive, harsh church leaders as a child, adolescent and young adult were meant for evil; I believe God has used them for good and for His glory. I'm grateful for His steadfast love, mercy and grace. I make no excuses for any of my imperfect decisions--my journey has had its rough bumps, and by the grace of God I am where I am today as a woman, wife and mom.

I believe that the church in general can do better with cases like this (it is not a problem unique to one denomination). I'd like those that are committed to the foundational doctrines that I believe and love to lead the way in doing better. I believe that hidden sin hurts the cause of the Gospel more than the world finding out about our imperfect decisions. Repentance and restoration will speak volumes to the watching world and unbelievers. I would like to see some public apologies to Tina, but that isn't my action to take. Only those directly involved can make that decision. Greg and one other apologized for the way thoughts were worded on Bob Bixby's blog. That was heart-warming for those watching/reading. I understand the Holy Spirit doesn't need me--He is pretty good at His own work.

Some with closer associations to Chuck and Trinity will have to make decisions about how they will handle their own situation. I offer no recommendations or opinion on the matter.

Laurie Moody

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Ron Bean wrote:
When Phelps contacted the Concord PD, what if they asked him "How old is the girl?"
"She's 16."
That could explain the PD's lack of urgency.

So when, in the timeline of all of this, was the incident reported? Soon after it happened, or not until she found out she was pregnant- and how far into term was she?

If Pastor Phelps said she was 16, but that she had become pregnant as a result of the assault, it would still be required for the police to ask how old she was at the time that she was raped, and not just "How old is she now?"

Police and CPS workers are trained to handle these cases. They have a detailed list of questions they are to ask anyone who calls or comes in with a report. It's not like ordering fast food at the drive thru window. Unless they were bumbling idiots, they would have obtained enough information from the initial phone call to figure out that she was underage.

@ Laurie- it's sometimes difficult to be passionate and remain credible. I appreciate your concern that justice be done, and for your careful attitude here.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Laurie, I do appreciate your even handedness in your communication here. Especially your attitude that people inclined to see things differently than you do may still be keenly interested in the truth.

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.

Leah Hayes's picture

Susan, I think Tina was 4 months along when Phelps found out and she was 16 at the time Phelps found out. 15 when she was raped. If Phelps reported that a 16 year old in his church has consensual sex with a 38 or 39 year old man, the police would view it very differently than if he had said she was a 15 year old rape victim or rape victim of any age for that matter. Chuck maintains that Tina was in an ongoing consensual relationship with a married man--Ernie Willis on his website and it is my understanding that he also testified in court that he thought it was consensual. In addition, her mother told the police that she did not want to talk. So if the police thought she was a 16 year old having consensual sex, there really wasn't much for them to follow up on since she was technically of age.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Leah Hayes wrote:
Susan, I think Tina was 4 months along when Phelps found out and she was 16 at the time Phelps found out. 15 when she was raped. If Phelps reported that a 16 year old in his church has consensual sex with a 38 or 39 year old man, the police would view it very differently than if he had said she was a 15 year old rape victim or rape victim of any age for that matter. Chuck maintains that Tina was in an ongoing consensual relationship with a married man--Ernie Willis on his website and it is my understanding that he also testified in court that he thought it was consensual. In addition, her mother told the police that she did not want to talk. So if the police thought she was a 16 year old having consensual sex, there really wasn't much for them to follow up on since she was technically of age.

Then he'd be guilty of providing false information. The crime was at minimum sexual contact with a minor, so if he reported it as if she was 16 at the time of the sexual contact, they could go after him for that, I would think. It would appear to be an intentional effort to mislead.

I'm still stuck with the idea that any law enforcement officer or CPS worker who abides by their reporting policies is going to ask enough questions during the initial report to uncover the true situation. I know too many cops and social workers who are extremely professional and thorough to believe that it's SOP to just take someone's vague statements and file it under "No Big Deal". Maybe the Concord PD was having a bad hair day.

rdl's picture

@Laurie - Thank your for your observations. Did Phelps try to talk to Tina at all in the courtroom - even to greet her? I know you may not have seen everything that transpired, but it would be interesting to know if he reached out to her at all. If so, how did she respond?

rogercarlson's picture

Laurie,
Your humbleness here has been great. The information has been even better. Thank you for moving this forward for us to think through.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

LJ Moody's picture

rdl wrote:
@Laurie - Thank your for your observations. Did Phelps try to talk to Tina at all in the courtroom - even to greet her? I know you may not have seen everything that transpired, but it would be interesting to know if he reached out to her at all. If so, how did she respond?

I can answer this question with an unequivocal no. I was with her the entire time Chuck Phelps was on the stand. He did not approach her, speak to her or even make eye contact with her.

LJ Moody's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
When Phelps contacted the Concord PD, what if they asked him "How old is the girl?"
"She's 16."
That could explain the PD's lack of urgency.

Ron, this was not addressed at trial. I think the best explanation is a consideration of all the testimony together: Phelps, Leaf and Gagnon, that I discussed here: http://sharperiron.org/comment/30507#comment-30507

I've read that some have wondered the same thing as you because at drchuckphelps.com the age given was 16. Given what was said at trial, I am doubtful it is true. Given Gagnon's own testimony, he seemed pretty clear that he tabled it due to lack of information about Tina's whereabouts.

Leah Hayes's picture

Susan R wrote:
Then he'd be guilty of providing false information. The crime was at minimum sexual contact with a minor, so if he reported it as if she was 16 at the time of the sexual contact, they could go after him for that, I would think. It would appear to be an intentional effort to mislead. .

Not technically Susan. Tina's mother and Phelps didn't go out of their way to provide information. If asked how old the girl was, he could have truthfully said 16 because at the moment she was 16 and he could have said, "Well, they asked me how old she was, not how old she was when it happened. Those are two different questions and I answered how old she was at the moment they asked me how old she was." Such an action would be morally wrong, but could technically be correct. However, as Laurie states above it was her impression from testimony that the reported age was not the reason the investigation stop, but rather because the police department could not find her.

As you stated earlier there were lots of adults playing hot potato with Tina. As a result of that she was greatly hurt and justice delayed for many years.

I am still wondering if anyone will revisit my post above. Does Chuck Phelps meet the biblical guidelines to be a pastor as outlined in Timothy? And if not will pastors who are members of organizations in which Chuck is a member of leader publicly call for him to step down? Are the principles in Timothy worth taking a stand on?

Erik Lewis's picture

Much has been said and frankly I've heard all I care to hear about whether this was consensual or forced. The jury found Willis guilty of rape so why do some continue to insist that it may have been consensual? He was found guilty. He had a fair trial and in my mind, that removes any reasonable doubt that this was forced rape. Having said that though, lets say just for sake of argument that it was consensual sex and Tina threw herself at Willis, here's my question. Why does that matter? When a 39 year old man has sex with a 15 year old girl that is statutory rape. A man nearly 40 years old should have the judgment not to be involved with a teenage girl and I don't view consensual sex with an underage minor as somehow "less evil" than forced rape. Can you tell me when he was having her over to his house, teaching her to drive, he didn't have ulterior motives? He knew exactly what he was doing. If I hear one more person try to suggest that consenual sex with an underage minor is somehow not as bad, I'm going to throw up. I hope they throw the book at Willis.

Greg Linscott's picture

Erik,

As I have understood it, no one is suggesting that the crime of consensual sex isn't "as bad," but that it would be more difficult to convict because there would be the possibility of the victim protecting the perpetrator or refusing to testify/press charges... Whether that is the case or not, I don't think anyone here is arguing that it isn't as bad or unworthy of legal charges and consequences...

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

No one here at SI is insisting that there was consent in this case, or that consensual sex with a minor is 'not as bad'. It would be more productive to discuss the topics that have been presented here than argue points being proposed elsewhere, IMO.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Erik,

The only discussion here about consent revolved around whether Tina might bear any responsibility for her own actions in the case. No one has argued anywhere on SI (to my knowledge) that Tina's possible consent had anything to do with Willis' guilt for his own actions, even if Tina had thrown herself at him.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

We removed some posts from this thread for review, and cannot repost them at this time, as they contained information and accusations whose accuracy we could not verify. It appears that the information was obtained from private messages, and we have a policy against http://sharperiron.org/sharperiron-forum-comment-policy ]"without permission, posting correspondence that was intended to be private" . The matter is still under review, but that is where we are now.
The user who posted the information was contacted and understands our decision.

Thanks.

End moderator note.

Leah Hayes's picture

The posts that were removed in this thread were mine. The moderators and I have had some lengthy discussions over the matter in private the last couple of days. I appreciate their spirit in the matter and their reaching out to me to debate the issue with me.

The conversation that I linked to at another blog site cannot be serifed as happening as it took place in private. Neither individual has a it posted on their facebook wall. I have checked both places. The standard under which Ernie Willis was convicted--AND THE CONVICTION SHOULD BE ACCEPTED AS TRUTH-- was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of the conversation that I linked to, it has been edited in some manner as the photos are blurred and the conversation has been cut up into small segments with commentary in between. So with that in mind--the conversation being private and clear editing, it could create a reasonable doubt as the the veracity of it. I am inclined to believe it, but cannot prove it. So I support the MODS decision to remove it.

And in fact, after learning that I could not prove it, I asked them to drop my appeal to have the comments reposted. At the point I asked for them to not be reposted, there was still discussion about putting them back up.

The moderators have certainly allowed me to make a number of very critical comments about this situation. My repeated critical comments citing Timothy and the biblical requirements for a pastor have remained as they apply to Phelps as well as a number of other critical comments.

It is my hope that if someone posted a conversation that I supposedly had but could not be verified that they would afford me the same courtesy as they have this other person.

I am sure that when available they will permit a link to the full trial testimony in the Willis case.

As much as it pains me to say it, they were right to moderate my comments since I was not able to verify beyond a reasonable doubt the truth of what I posted.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Leah Hayes wrote:
The standard under which Ernie Willis was convicted--AND THE CONVICTION SHOULD BE ACCEPTED AS TRUTH-- was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Truth that he was convicted or that truth that he is guilty of the charges?

Remember, this is a legal rendering not necessarily a factual one. Yes, the case is argued based on what is believed to be factual (and other kinds) of evidence. But the rendering by the jury is a legal one, not necessarily a factual one (it may be but jury renderings themselves are legal determinations and must be spoken of as those).

As well, if you are suggesting that a jury's decision (or a judge's) is to be treated as a factual adjudication then poor O.J. Simpson suffered for many years at the hands of a public unwilling to accept the truth.

Leah Hayes's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Leah Hayes wrote:
The standard under which Ernie Willis was convicted--AND THE CONVICTION SHOULD BE ACCEPTED AS TRUTH-- was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Truth that he was convicted or that truth that he is guilty of the charges?

Remember, this is a legal rendering not necessarily a factual one. Yes, the case is argued based on what is believed to be factual (and other kinds) of evidence. But the rendering by the jury is a legal one, not necessarily a factual one (it may be but jury renderings themselves are legal determinations and must be spoken of as those).

As well, if you are suggesting that a jury's decision (or a judge's) is to be treated as a factual adjudication then poor O.J. Simpson suffered for many years at the hands of a public unwilling to accept the truth.

Alex, if you wish to stand in support of Ernie Willis, go for it. That speaks volumes about the kind of man you are. Let the words of your own mouth testify as to your character and judgment.

It is clear beyond doubt that a man who was in a position of power and trust over a 15 year old girl had sex with her twice. Ernie's own testimony on the stand said that he began making sexual comments to Tina. Those comments were a clear effort to groom the victim for his sexual use and pleasure. He pleaded to one count because he could not deny they DNA of the child. His story kept changing. Tina's did not. Ernie is no OJ Simpson.

Under what circumstances Alex do you excuse a married main having sex with a child? From Ernie's own testimony he testified that he viewed Tina as a kid at the time and took her out for her 16th birthday because that is a big deal to a kid. He did not view himself as having an affair with a consenting adult. He by his own testimony was having "sexual intercourse" with a "kid".

Many of you men need to sit down and think about the kind of pastors, deacons and elders you have watching over your families. If God forbid you were to die, would these men protect your daughters? Would they? Or would they side with the men who used your daughter or son or wife for their own sexual gratification and then dispensed with them when they were done?

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