Compassion or Cover-Up? Teen Victim Claims Rape; Forced Confession in Church
Now an adult, Tina Anderson isn't angry at God but has left her church.
April 8, 2011 — -- For years, her church was all she knew but today, Tina Anderson has left that church and says she's not going back.
"I still struggle, because I've been made to feel guilty for so long," she told "20/20."
Anderson was only 16 when she said she was forced to stand terrified before her entire church congregation to confess her "sin" -- she had become pregnant. She says she wasn't allowed to tell the group that the pregnancy was the result of being allegedly raped by a fellow congregant, a man twice her age.
She says her New Hampshire pastor, Chuck Phelps, told her she was lucky not to have been born during Old Testament times when she would have been stoned to death.
Phelps says that Anderson voluntarily stood in front of the church, but Tina says it was the first step of "church discipline" at her Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (IFB).
"I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened," Anderson said.
"I truly believed that it was my fault," she said.
Photos: Tina Anderson's Life
Her mother sought help from the pastor and they agreed to send her thousands of miles away to Colorado to live with another IFB family.
There, she said she was homeschooled and restricted from seeing others her age until she gave her child up for adoption.
In February 2010, after keeping her secret for 13 years, Anderson -- who now has three more children and lives with her husband in Arizona -- was contacted by police and agreed to press charges.
All the years that she lived with the memory of the alleged abuse, she says she held it tight. "You are told not to talk about it," according to Anderson.
Today, the man accused of raping Anderson is awaiting trial. Ernest Willis, a former church member who lives in Gilford, N.H., is accused of raping Anderson twice -- once in the backseat of a car during a driving lesson and a second time at Anderson's home where she says he showed up when her mother was away. Willis was arrested in May, 2010 on felony sexual assault charges and has since pleaded not guilty. He has declined to speak with "20/20."
Anderson told "20/20" that, as a pregnant teen, she confided her pregnancy to Willis. His reaction, she said, was to offer to pay for an abortion. When she rejected his offer, he presented another option, she said.
"He asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could to try to cause a miscarriage," she said. "I told him, 'No, leave me alone.'"
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