I finally followed up on my homework after my last online entanglement with R.L. Hymers, Jr. This is from the article that my commenter, “Newton,” asked me to read, and it hasn’t made me angry, exactly, just yet—that will come later. Right now, it’s just making me very, very tired and depressed.
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.
The girl was told that even if it was 99% the fault of the older man, she should still repent of her “1%” guilt. And this was not date-rape, as my own case was in Bob Hymers’ church. The man was not a scummy boyfriend, but rather a married older man for whom she had been the family baby-sitter.
The public confessions extracted from both the man and the girl left out the fact that the act was not consensual. The congregation was lied to, both affirmatively and by omission, and the girl was whisked out of state and kept isolated from kids her own age, with the complicity, apparently, of this “church.”
If you want to read more about abusive and cultic churches—particularly in the context of evangelical Christianity and other otherwise-wholesome religious traditions—you probably cannot do better than the work of Ronald Enroth, whose Churches That Abuse is a classic guide.