"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trinity Rape Update: Fuller Continues To Do the Right Thing

I wanted to give an update on the Trinity Baptist Church (Concorde, NH) rape case involving a church member raping a then 15-year old babysitter. I have written several articles on this case previously, the most recent one here.

Today the alleged rapist, Ernie Willis, was arraigned in court, charged with two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. The judge refused to grant him a public defender, so he will have to spend his own dough and hire an attorney.

But the more interesting aspect of this story to me is how the current pastor, Reverend Brian Fuller, is doing the right thing and NOT remaining silent about what occured at his church years before he arrived. As events unfold, he appears NOT to be interested in covering in any way for the previous pastor's actions, or remaining a tomb and not speaking out about what happened at his church 13 years ago.

WMUR News in New Hampshire ran a story today on Willis' arraignment (video report is included at that hyperlink), and the reporter was granted an interview with Pastor Brian Fuller (seen below). This is amazing to me, as most pastors dealing with a sex scandal in their church are in damage control mode and will NOT speak to reporters. Fuller has already said more publicly about this scandal in one month than, say, another well known independent Baptist minister whose church was involved in a much deeper sex scandal over the past 15 years.

Fuller so far is taking a different tact. HE is speaking to the media. He isn't sending his lawyers to speak, or his trustees or deacons, or having his PR firm release a written statement.

And he is telling it like it is, going on the camera. He expressed alarm how the alleged perpetrator was allowed to stay a member of the church "for years" after the rape was reported. According to the reporter, Fuller acknowledges that the rape "was kept under wraps", and the survivor was forced to "apologize" to the congregation for getting pregnant, and was then flown to Colorado.

The news reporter says the rape survivor sent her a copy of the written statement she provided to the police. A direct quote from the survivor's statement:

"[previous Pastor Chuck Phelps] told me that I should be happy that I didn't live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned because I didn't cry out and tell people sooner."

Church discipline from a caring pastor: Just be glad you got raped NOW and not THEN, else we would have killed you. Sick. The only thing she didn't get was a trespass order filed with the Concorde police for "church misconduct".

Well, as I blogged several weeks ago, I remain hopeful that Fuller will continue to be open and forthright about what occured at the church, and that he will be honest and transparent about what changes he is going to make at his church in their governance and discipline process to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. He promised he would do this in his May 30, 2010 sermon.

Speaking out about this is one way that Fuller can communicate to those people in his community he seeks to minister to, that he and his church are interested in loving people as Christ commanded them and will stand with those who are wronged and will call for justice when the weak are abused by the powerful. Silence might help lawyers minimize your financial damages, but the community gets the message that you're more about your precious church's reputation and financial resources than you are about standing for what is right.

And hey, who knows...if Fuller determines that Chuck Phelps acted inappropriately in exercising his pastoral duties, perhaps he will call on Phelps' current church to exercise church discipline on HIM, and force HIM to stand in front of his congregation to apologize.

And thank goodness for the "bloggers"...as the WMUR reporter says at the end of her piece, it was a blogger who got the investigation started again after 13 years.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"And thank goodness for the "bloggers"...as the WMUR reporter says at the end of her piece"

Amen & Amen!

Interesting: Just opposite of what Brunson told a Jacksonville reporter - he firmly believes bloggers are beauty shop gossipers,calls people questioning issues as sociapaths and has his sidekicks calling them cowards.

Thank God for good journalist! Oh forgot, with tears (ha) he faked apology to the congregation saying he mispoke. Sorry, not believable - he meant every word spoken to the reporter!

Anonymous said...

Not to be picky but it is "Concord" New Hampshire, not "Concorde".

And pronounced like "Con-cuhd".

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of this incident until reading about it on watchdog blog. It is ridiculous to me that this could have happened to this lady who was then a child. How a pastor could have said to her the things he did is just unbelievable. We are to love and enemies but I don't think we have to protect a sexual deviate. We have to remember satan is god of this world and it seems to me that is whom some were worshipping. I have pastored many yrs. have had on occasion to deal with unsavory activity. I know that all manner of sin can be forgiven but there has to be true repentance. I don't think in this case true repentance was sought. Keep exposing wrong doing watch, it may really help someone who needs it.

Ben said...

Quite possibly this will be a lesson for many to follow - a lesson in HOW TO APPROPRIATELY handle this type of church scandal.

I know nothing of this Pastor, but I am thankful that he is facing this terrible scandal within his church and being transparent about it! Thank you!

People are still unaware of how often this type of church cover up happens. The act itself is bad enough, add in the secrecy and cover up...but just to make sure we really "deal with it" you guys go ahead and humiliate and discredit the victim as well. It is truly sickening. To make this girl apologize for what happened to her, to tell her she is "lucky" she wasn't stoned...
the saddest part is I have heard so many stories like this.

To victims - God knows your every heartache and He does care! These deeds will not go unpunished. You have fallen into the hands of sinful man, but you ARE the apple of God's eye! Don't let them win by silencing you.

Anonymous said...

Why give TOM MESSER a pass? We in Jacksonville know which "independent baptist pastor" was reported to have covered up a known pedophile's behavior.

And compared to Messer, Mac Brunson has done nothing worth blogging about. Mac was greedy and abusive in his preaching and administration, but he did not cover for a known pedophile and did not facilitate that pedophile going to another country to "serve" like Catholic priests that were found out. The local news articles on Trinity, and Messer's reported involvement, are more troubling than anything you harp on about Mac Brunson.

How could anyone listen to Messer preach without it occuring to them that this apparently great and godly man, covered for a known pedophile? That would bother me more than his receiving a land gift or issuing trespass warnings.

What else might Trinity and Messer be hiding? Why no public repentance and apology to the community from Tom Messer?

Too bad there is no "Trinity Baptist Watchdog" to hold those "conservative" boys accountable for the children that were abused while under their trusting care.

This case sounds very similar and yet you refuse to mention Tom Messer by name?

Tom Messer, Tom Messer, Tom Messer