After being raped and impregnated by a fellow churchgoer more than twice her age, a 15-year-old Concord girl was forced by Trinity Baptist Church leaders to stand before the congregation to apologize before they helped whisk her out of state, according to the police.
While her pastor, Chuck Phelps, reported the alleged rape in 1997 to state youth officials, Concord police detectives were never able to find the victim. The victim said she was sent to another church member’s home in Colorado, where she was home-schooled and not allowed to have contact with others her age. It wasn’t until this past February that the victim, who is now 28, decided to come forward after reading about other similar cases, realizing for the first time it wasn’t her fault that she had been raped, she told the police.
The police arrested Ernest Willis, 51, of Gilford, last week in connection with the case, accusing him of raping the girl twice – once in the back seat of a car he was teaching her to drive in and again after showing up at her Concord home while her parents were away. He was charged with four felonies – two counts of rape and two counts of having sex with a minor, court records show.
In a statement to the police, the victim said Willis came to her home in the summer of 1997 without warning.
“He said he wanted to talk to me about something so I let him in the house,” she wrote. “He locked the door behind him and pushed me over to the couch. I had a dress on and he pulled it off. I pushed my hands against his shoulders and said ‘No,’ but he didn’t stop.”
At the time of the alleged rape, Phelps was in touch with the police, who told him to contact the Division for Children, Youth and Families.
But moving the girl out of state prevented the police from collecting evidence or a statement, the police said yesterday.
“Without a victim, it makes it very difficult to have a case,” said Lt. Keith Mitchell. “That basically made the investigation very difficult.”
At the time, Willis also refused to give a statement, police records show.
So for 13 years, a file on the case sat closed and marked “unresolved” at the Concord police station.
Police records do not show whether detectives asked church leaders to help them get in contact with the victim or if information was withheld.
“If somebody tried to cover this up or not cover this up, that’s a separate issue,” Mitchell said.
Phelps did not return a message seeking comment yesterday. He no longer works at the church.
“The leadership of Trinity Baptist Church reported this alleged crime within 24 hours of hearing the accusations on Oct. 8, 1997,” said spokesman Peter Flint from a prepared statement. “We continue in our commitment to cooperate with authorities so that justice is served.”
‘Completely in shock’
The victim said she came forward after getting in touch with Jocelyn Zichterman, who runs an online group for victims of church abuse.
In a seven-page statement to the police, the victim recounted the moments leading up to her departure from New Hampshire.
At 14, she began babysitting for Willis, a well-known member of the church. She told the police she would often stay the night if he got home late.
Just over a year later, he offered to give her driving lessons. While in the parking lot of a Concord business, Willis asked her to pull over to switch seats, she told the police.
But instead he pulled her into the backseat and raped her, according to a statement to the police.
In the summer of 1997, Willis raped her again, this time while at her home while her mother was out, according to police records.
“I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened,” she said.
Over the next few months, the girl became suspicious she was pregnant. She called Willis, who brought over a pregnancy test that came up positive, she told the police.
“He asked me if I wanted him to take me to a neighboring state where underage abortions were legal . . . and he would pay for an abortion,” she told the police. “He then asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could because that might cause a miscarriage.”
She declined both.
The victim told her mother about the pregnancy. Soon after, Phelps was also alerted.
The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for “church discipline,” where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins.
She asked why. “Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation,” the victim told the police.
“He told me that I should be happy that I didn’t live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned.”
Fran Earle, the church’s former clerk, witnessed the punishment session.
At a night meeting of the church’s fellowship in 1997, Phelps invited Willis to the front of the room. Willis apologized to the group for not being faithful to his wife, Earle said.
“I can remember saying to my husband, I don’t understand it’s any of our business why this is being brought up,” Earle said.
Phelps then told parishioners a second matter was at hand; he invited the victim to apologize for getting pregnant.
“I can still see the little girl standing up there with this smile on her face trying to get through this,” Earle said.
A day after the session, Earle called the pastor’s wife, who said the victim had decided not to press charges for statutory rape.
“You’ve got to understand, we trusted our pastor and his wife to be telling us the truth,” Earle said. “They told us it had been reported. He reported it as a consensual act between a man and a woman. Well, I didn’t know a 15-year-old was a woman.”
Earle, who left the church in 2001 after 19 years, said it was regular to see young girls who were pregnant called to the front of the congregation to be humiliated.
Rob Sims, another former member, said the discipline sessions were formulaic – Phelps would read Bible verses, give a limited overview of what happened and then each person would read a statement.
“(The) statement agreed that they had done wrong and why they ‘now believed’ that they had sinned,” he said. “Then Pastor Phelps would give a few closing remarks and then a vote would be taken to remove the guilty party from membership or to keep them in membership but under discipline, or something to that effect.”
The police said the victim’s family asked for her to be moved to Colorado.
“I think that she clearly did not want to go to Colorado, and I’m quite sure she expressed that to the church, her mother and the pastor,” said Concord police Detective Chris DeAngelis. “However, she was a juvenile. Her mom requests assistance and that was what they came up with.”
Mitchell said the police are looking at pressing other charges.
Willis was released on $100,000 personal recognizance bail. He faces an arraignment June 16 in Concord District Court.
ROME — Italy’s bishops’ conference provided the first ever statistics of clerical sex abuse in the country Tuesday, saying there had been about 100 cases over the past 10 years that warranted church trials or other canonical procedures.
Monsignor Mariano Crociata, the No. 2 official in the Italian bishops’ conference, gave the estimate during a press conference on the sidelines of the bishops’ general assembly, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies reported.
He declined to say how many of the cases resulted in condemnation or defrocking of the priest, or how many were reported to police. While saying the church officials cooperated with police, he insisted that Italian law doesn’t require bishops to report suspected abuse.
Some lawyers for victims say bishops are required to report abuse since they are public officials. Vatican norms say bishops should follow civil laws in reporting abuse.
Crociata’s comments came a day after the head of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, opened the bishops’ annual meeting by asking families to trust the Catholic Church despite the scandal, insisting that it had never intended to underestimate the problem.
The meeting came as more cases are coming to light in the Vatican’s backyard: On Tuesday, the ANSA news agency reported that a 73-year-old priest well known in Milan’s gay community had been arrested on charges he had sex with a 13-year-old boy, who is now 16. A day earlier, a priest in Savona went on trial for alleged sexual violence against a 12-year-old girl, ANSA said.
And last week, a Rome bishop testified in the case of another accused priest, the Rev. Ruggero Conti, that he knew about rumors of abuse two years before Conti was arrested yet didn’t alert police or the Vatican or proceed with any canonical trial against him.
Mario Staderini, a member of Italy’s Radical party who is a civil party in the Conti case, said it was unconscionable that a canonical trial hadn’t proceeded against Conti, given the evidence provided to his bishop, Monsignor Gino Reali.
Reali testified that he had spoken to 20-25 people, including two boys who said they had been abused by Conti, yet didn’t find their accusations credible. He said he convened a tribunal after receiving a written complaint from one of the boys, but it never got under way because the victim didn’t show up.
Conti is charged with sexual violence and other charges. In police interrogations, the boys — some as young as 13 at the time of the alleged abuse — said Conti would masturbate them and force them to perform oral sex on him in his home, where he frequently invited them to eat dinner and watch movies.
“How is it possible that only in Italy no bishop has felt the need to resign or make a mea culpa for failing to be vigilant?” Staderini asked in a statement.
He said if the Italian bishops’ conference wanted to be transparent and care for victims it should put some of the money that Italians earmark to the Catholic Church on their income taxes toward a fund for victims.
The main U.S. victims group, SNAP, Survivors’ Network for Those Abused by Priests, denounced Crociata for his defense of not reporting abuse to police, saying “it’s tragic and telling that most Catholic officials still insist on keeping clergy sex crimes secret.”
The group’s Midwest director Peter Isely said he doubted that there had only been 100 cases. “For decades, Catholic officials have underestimated and underreported the shocking extent of clergy sex crimes. We believe most of them still do.”
Saudi Arabia’s religious police have arrested 10 “emo” women for allegedly causing a disturbance in a coffee shop, Al-Yaum newspaper has reported.
The coffee shop owner in the eastern city of Dammam called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to complain after the young women, dressed and made up in the “emo” fashion, apparently began disturbing other clients.
The religious police then called their parents to come and collect the women, and to sign pledges that the girls would not repeat their ostensibly offensive un-Islamic behaviour and dress.
According to recent reports, growing numbers of urban young Saudi women are latching on to the emo fashion popular from Japan to Europe and the Americas.
The trend is characterised by wearing skinny black jeans, tennis shoes, colourful T-shirts bearing the names of emo bands, heavy make up and sharply chopped and sometimes radically coloured hairdos.
While Saudi women normally must appear in public shrouded by all-black abayas and headscarves, some daringly open their abayas in places such as malls and coffee shops to reveal more trendy outfits underneath.
A Polish-born priest accused of sexually abusing minors in his parochial residence in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has turned himself in, state officials said Saturday.State security officials said Marcin Michal Strachanowski, 44, surrendered to authorities Friday night in the village of Realengo.
State Civil Police had issued a “preventative arrest” warrant against Strachanowski on Thursday. The priest is accused of handcuffing a minor in 2006 and forcing him to perform sexual acts at his home in the Divino Espirito Santo church in Rio de Janeiro’s west zone, the officials said.
According to Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, the priest could not be found Friday morning.
The newspaper reported that a 16-year old alleged victim told investigators that after being frequently raped by the priest, he was forced to remain silent and was threatened regularly.
Citing court statements, the newspaper reported that criminal Judge Alexandre Abrahao Dias Teixeira said police investigations revealed the profile of a man with a “compulsive attraction to having sex with adolescents” and that he had allegedly turned his parish residence into an “erotic dungeon” where he forced boys to have sex with him.
This disgusts me.
Cynthia Dunbar does not have a high regard for her local schools. She has called them unconstitutional, tyrannical and tools of perversion. The conservative Texas lawyer has even likened sending children to her state’s schools to “throwing them in to the enemy’s flames”. Her hostility runs so deep that she educated her own offspring at home and at private Christian establishments.
Now Dunbar is on the brink of fulfilling a promise to change all that, or at least point Texas schools toward salvation. She is one of a clutch of Christian evangelists and social conservatives who have grasped control of the state’s education board. This week they are expected to force through a new curriculum that is likely to shift what millions of American schoolchildren far beyond Texas learn about their history.
The board is to vote on a sweeping purge of alleged liberal bias in Texas school textbooks in favour of what Dunbar says really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world, and free enterprise as the cornerstone of liberty and democracy.
“We are fighting for our children’s education and our nation’s future,” Dunbar said. “In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some corrections.”
Those corrections have prompted a blizzard of accusations of rewriting history and indoctrinating children by promoting rightwing views on religion, economics and guns while diminishing the science of evolution, the civil rights movement and the horrors of slavery.
Several changes include sidelining Thomas Jefferson, who favoured separation of church and state, while introducing a new focus on the “significant contributions” of pro-slavery Confederate leaders during the civil war.
The new curriculum asserts that “the right to keep and bear arms” is an important element of a democratic society. Study of Sir Isaac Newton is dropped in favour of examining scientific advances through military technology.
There is also a suggestion that the anti-communist witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been justified.
The education board has dropped references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous “Atlantic triangular trade”, and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by Islamic fundamentalism.
“There is a battle for the soul of education,” said Mavis Knight, a liberal member of the Texas education board. “They’re trying to indoctrinate with American exceptionalism, the Christian founding of this country, the free enterprise system. There are strands where the free enterprise system fits appropriately but they have stretched the concept of the free enterprise system back to medieval times. The president of the Texas historical association could not find any documentation to support the stretching of the free enterprise system to ancient times but it made no difference.”
The curriculum has alarmed liberals across the country in part because Texas buys millions of text books every year, giving it considerable sway over what publishers print. By some estimates, all but a handful of American states rely on text books written to meet the Texas curriculum. The California legislature is considering a bill that would bar them from being used in the state’s schools.
In the past four years, Christian conservatives have won almost half the seats on the Texas education board and can rely on other Republicans for support on most issues. They previously tried to require science teachers to address the “strengths and weaknesses” in the theory of evolution – a move critics regard as a back door to teaching creationism – but failed. They have had more success in tackling history and social studies.
Dunbar backed amendments to the curriculum that portray the free enterprise system (there is no mention of capitalism, deemed to be a tainted word) as a cornerstone of liberty and argue that the government should have a minimal role in the economy.
One amendment requires that students be taught that economic prosperity requires “minimal government intrusion and taxation”.
Underpinning the changes is a particular view of religion.
Dunbar was elected to the state education board on the back of a campaign in which she argued for the teaching of creationism – euphemistically known as intelligent design – in science classes.
Two years ago, she published a book, One Nation Under God, in which she argued that the United States was ultimately governed by the scriptures.
“The only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the founding fathers at the time of our government’s inception comes from a biblical worldview,” she wrote. “We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.”
On the education board, Dunbar backed changes that include teaching the role the “Jewish Ten Commandments” played in “political and legal ideas”, and the study of the influence of Moses on the US constitution. Dunbar says these are important steps to overturning what she believes is the myth of a separation between church and state in the US.
“There’s been this amorphous changing of how we look at religion and how we define religion within American history. One concern I have is that the viewpoint of the founding fathers is very clear. They were not against the promotion of religion. I think it is important to present a historically accurate viewpoint to students,” she said.
On the face of it some of the changes are innocuous but critics say that closer scrutiny reveals a not-so-hidden agenda. History students are now to be required to study documents, such as the Mayflower Compact, which instil the idea of America being founded as a Christian fundamentalist nation.
Knight and others do not question that religion was an important force in American history but they fear that it is being used as a Trojan horse by evangelists to insert religious indoctrination into the school curriculum. They point to the wording of amendments such as that requiring students to “describe how religion and virtue contributed to the growth of representative government in the American colonies”.
Among the advisers the board brought in to help rewrite the curriculum is David Barton, the leader of WallBuilders which seeks to promote religion in history. Barton has campaigned against the separation of church and state. He argues that income tax should be abolished because it contradicts the bible. Among his recommendations was that pupils should be taught that the declaration of independence establishes that the creator is at the heart of law, government and individual rights.
Conservatives have been accused of an assault on the history of civil rights. One curriculum amendment describes the civil rights movement as creating “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities. Another seeks to place Martin Luther King and the violent Black Panther movement as opposite sides of the same coin.
“We had a big discussion around that,” said Knight, a former teacher. “It was an attempt to taint the civil rights movement. They did the same by almost equating George Wallace [the segregationist governor of Alabama in the mid-1960s] with the civil rights movement and the things Martin Luther King Jr was trying to accomplish, as if Wallace was standing up for white civil rights. That’s how slick they are.
“They’re very smooth at excluding the contributions of minorities into the curriculum. It is as if they want to render minority groups totally invisible. I think it’s racist. I really do.”
The blizzard of amendments has produced the occasional farce. Some figures have been sidelined because they are deemed to be socialist or un-American. One of them is a children’s author, Bill Martin, who wrote a popular tale, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Martin was purged from the curriculum when he was confused with an author with a similar name but a different book, Ethical Marxism.
Yup, fuck Islam. Religion of peace? My ass.
I don’t get it, this guy hates the united states and wants Americans to die, yet he lives in the US.. what the fuck is this guy’s problem? And people wonder why I say: FUCK ISLAM.
FRANKLIN, Ind. (ABP) — A former Southern Baptist pastor in central Indiana has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old church member in a relationship that began with him counseling the girl because she was not getting along with her mother.
Daniel Moore, 50, former pastor of New Whiteland Baptist Church near Franklin, Ind., pleaded guilty March 15 to felony child solicitation and sexual misconduct charges in exchange for a 10-year sentence. A Johnson County circuit court judge approved the plea bargain at a sentencing hearing April 8.
The girl’s mother, who is not being identified to protect the privacy of her daughter, said she was satisfied with the sentence because she didn’t want to put the now soon-to-be 17-year-old through the trauma of a jury trial.
In a victim’s impact statement, the mother said Moore started counseling the girl at her request. When she told the pastor she was monitoring who her daughter talked to and texted through her online account, the mother said Moore gave the girl a SIM card for her phone from another account.
After confronting both Moore and his wife about inappropriate notes, the mother said she received a call from the girl’s school in March 2009 reporting she was seen with a suspicious-looking elderly man. Searching her daughter’s room, the mother said she found other notes from the defendant to her daughter, including one that said, “I love you with the purest love of God.”
After going to the police, the woman, who had been an active member of New Whiteland Baptist Church for nine years, said just two church members called to see how they were doing. After that, she said, there was no more contact.
Entering the courtroom April 8, the mother said she was surprised how many people from the former church were there to support their former pastor. At the end of the hearing, she said, Moore’s stepdaughter said to her daughter, “I hope you rot in hell,” for her role in assisting in the prosecution of the case.
During her testimony, the mother said before two years ago, she probably would have been speaking in Moore’s defense. She worked with him in vacation Bible school, traveled with him on mission trips, accompanied him on visitation and witnessing to flood victims and was a leader in Sunday school. “I trusted him completely,” she said, which made his betrayal even worse.
The worst moment, she said, came when a detective came to her house to remove sheets from her daughter’s bed, and they came back testing positive with Moore’s DNA.
The mother said none of the defendant’s family or supporters testified at the hearing. Only she and her husband, the girl’s stepfather, took the stand.
In his letter to Judge K. Mark Loyd, the husband said he believed that Moore is a sexual predator who misused the Bible to seduce a child. He said while his faith in God has never wavered, the episode has shaken his faith in organized religion.
Not in attendance was Ernest James, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in nearby Greenwood, Ind. James and other leaders of the church sent a letter to Judge Loyd filed March 24 in anticipation of Moore’s sentencing hearing.
Church leaders informed the judge that, at their invitation, Moore had worshiped among them for several months “quietly, humbly and essentially anonymously, as it is his desire to avoid drawing attention to himself and for his fear of embarrassment to the church.”
The letter described Moore as “tearfully repentant, remorseful, regretful and ashamed.” It said church staff and deacons pledged to help him in “continued healing and restoration” and to act as a group of support and accountability “both during and after his incarceration.”
James did not respond to a request for comment.
Saudi Arabia is a country run by cavemen.
A Lebanese man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia on charges of witchcraft is due to be beheaded this week, his lawyer said on Wednesday, urging officials and rights groups to intervene on his behalf.”Last night we got news through unofficial channels that Ali Sabat would be beheaded within 48 hours,” May el-Khansa, Sabat’s attorney in Beirut told AFP.
“I have since been contacting Lebanese officials, including President Michel Sleiman and Lebanon’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia to appeal his case.”
Sabat was sentenced to death in November of last year by a Saudi court for practicing witchcraft.
He was arrested in May 2008 by the religious police in Medina, where he was on a pilgrimage before returning to his native Lebanon.
The case against him was brought after he gave advice and made predictions on Lebanese television.
Khansa said Lebanon’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia was in contact with Sabat and someone from the embassy had visited him on Wednesday in his jail cell.
“It is very important that we save the life of this one person,” she said. “He is not a criminal.”
She added that Sabat’s family was in shock and that his mother was seriously ill with doctors saying she could die anytime.
Rights groups have expressed concern about Sabat’s case and similar ones pending in Saudi Arabia and have accused Saudi courts of sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police.
Saudi Arabia has no clear legal definition on the charge of witchcraft and judges are given discretionary power in determining what constitutes a crime and what sentence to impose.
In November 2007, Mustafa Ibrahim, an Egyptian working as a pharmacist in Saudi Arabia was beheaded after he was found guilty of sorcery.