Rape victim who gets justice 14 years later speaks outPosted: Updated:
CHANDLER, Ariz. – Fourteen years after she was raped and impregnated by a member of her church and forced to take the blame, a Chandler woman says she finally has justice.
Tina Anderson was only 15 years old when a member of the Trinity Baptist Church, 38-year-old Ernest Willis, raped and impregnated her.
When she told her mother what had happened, her mother consulted with church officials. They decided to send her out of state and make her put the baby up for adoption once it was born.
They also told her the rape was her fault and made her stand before the congregation and confess she had sinned.
"I was blamed. I was put in front of the church, made to apologize for creating a compromising situation and I was shipped away and had to put the baby up for adoption," Anderson said.
Church officials sent Anderson to live with a foster couple in Colorado. After the baby was born she gave it up for adoption to a couple who were also members of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church.
"That was probably one of the hardest moments of my life," she said. "Because though I didn't want to get pregnant, though I didn't want to be raped, there's just a part of you, when that baby is growing inside of you, you love that child and it's not her fault."
Anderson tried to move on, going to college and settling in Chandler.
Then, last year she got a phone call from Concord Police. They had heard of her case while investigating other instances of abuse within the church, Anderson confirmed her story and agreed to press charges.
On Friday a jury convicted Willis of forcefully raping and impregnating Anderson. He faces up to 54 years in prison.
Anderson said the conviction is a victory for all victims of sexual abuse. "I saw it for a victory for rape victims everywhere because it showed, even if it's 14 years later, the crimes can be prosecuted and won."
"A big part of that hurt is believing you could have done something differently and I think it's really important to put it out there, that it's not, it's not their fault,” Anderson said.
She now lives in Chandler and lives with her husband and three children.