Indianapolis pastor at center of controversial rape case

Police say the victim was raped by a member of her church more than ten years ago. But a recent arrest has brought the case back into the headlines. And now a pastor at the center of the case is preaching in Indianapolis.

WXIN Fox News, Indianapolis/June 3, 2010

Update: The Indianapolis minister who is at the center of a controversial rape case issues statement to Fox59 News, after a member of the minister's former church come forward with accusations.

"As a ministerial professional I have consistently sought to protect the welfare of children in our in our churches by implementing and maintaining screening policies for personnel and all procedures recommended for best practices. This commitment has marked my ministry for nearly 30 years and continues to mark the ministry in which I serve in Indianapolis.

Thirteen years ago while in Concord, New Hampshire, a young lady and her mother contacted me and revealed that the young lady, then a minor, was with child because of an encounter with a married man. Because the man an adult, I sought legal counsel and carefully reported the situation both to the Concord, New Hampshire Police and to the New Hampshire Department of Children and Youth Services. I followed up with the police a second time and gave them more details of the allegations. I had a second contact with the DCYS as well. (I remain in possession of my contemporaneous notes regarding these calls.) Though the man and his family attended the church where I served, he was not a deacon or an officer in the assembly. The family of the accused had established a baby-sitting relationship with the minor.

In an effort to protect the young lady from further harm, she was carefully counseled to avoid any further contact with the man accused. All involved expected an arrest to occur quickly. At the request of her mother, several families within the congregation provided care during the day for the minor while her mother was at work.

The young lady was always under her mother's guardianship. Her mother, with counsel, arranged for her out of state care traveled to Colorado with the young lady and returned to be present when the baby was born. The young lady returned and for a time lived in Concord, New Hampshire where the incident was reported. Her mother's residence within the city of Concord was constant and continues so today. It does not appear that the police put forward a good faith effort to contact the young lady. They never contacted me regarding her whereabouts. Had they done so, I would have provided all information that I had at my disposal.

Pregnancies are public matters. Her mother being present, news of the young ladies pregnancy was shared in a church service in order for friends within the church to give assistance to this family during their time of need.

The police have recently arrested the man involved in the incident. As in the past, I am and will fully cooperate with the police investigation. For my part, cooperation has always included answering inquiries promptly, personally and transparently while providing any information that is necessary to conduct a complete and thorough investigation."

Previous story

Pastor Chuck Phelps now presides over his new Indianapolis congregation at Colonial Hills Baptist Church but Tina Anderson's brother has one message to Moms with children who go to Colonial Hills.

"Basically, I'd say stay away from that church. If he's (Phelps) the one in charge of that church, stay as far away as you can, because if something happens to your child he's not going to do anything about it," said Tom Dooley, Tina Anderson's brother.

Dooley says his sister then 14-years-old was raped by a parishioner at Phelps' former church in New Hampshire called Trinity Baptist 13 years ago. Dooley says Phelps mislead police and did not report the rape.

"He reported it as a young lady of near consenting age with an older man, not a 15-year-old who got raped twice," said Dooley. "She's the one who got kicked out of the church for getting raped and getting pregnant. The guy who raped her was a deacon in the church and was allowed to stay in his position as a deacon," said Dooley.

Accused rapist Ernest Willis is now 51 and was arrested days ago by New Hampshire police. Phelps is being investigated for possible obstruction of justice charges. Police have said they were hampered because detectives were never able to find the victim, Tina Anderson.

Anderson who has recently come forward to speak publicly about her ordeal says Phelps moved her to Colorado to live with a church family. She had become pregnant following the rape. In published reports Tina has detailed how Phelps made her confess immorality to the congregation. She has also said Phelps played a role in having her give the child up for adoption.

Fox59 went to Colonial Baptist Church to speak with the Pastor, but parishioners said he had left for the day. When asked if they could reach him they declined. Phelps appears to have no public listing as a residence.

But former members of his New Hampshire church say Phelps was running a cult at Trinity. They fear he will conduct the same time of church in Indianapolis.

"If this has been done in Concord then the philosophy apparently hasn't changed. What would stop it from happening again in a church in Indianapolis," said Matt Barnhart, a former member of Trinity Baptist in New Hampshire.

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