How does one respond to this?
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.
At 14, she began babysitting for Willis, a well-known member of the church. She told the police she would often stay the night if he got home late.
Just over a year later, he offered to give her driving lessons. While in the parking lot of a Concord business, Willis asked her to pull over to switch seats, she told the police.
But instead he pulled her into the backseat and raped her, according to a statement to the police.
In the summer of 1997, Willis raped her again, this time while at her home while her mother was out, according to police records.
But wait, folks, because not only was she raped by a member of her church, she was also unlucky enough to discover that even more of the morality involved was... um... flexible:
Over the next few months, the girl became suspicious she was pregnant. She called Willis, who brought over a pregnancy test that came up positive, she told the police.
"He asked me if I wanted him to take me to a neighboring state where underage abortions were legal . . . and he would pay for an abortion," she told the police. "He then asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could because that might cause a miscarriage."
So, for those of you keeping score: keeping safe, effective abortions legal? Not acceptable. Punching your underage rape victim in the stomach as hard as you can in the hopes of inducing a miscarriage? Totally fine. Now, some might wonder why the victim didn't go to the police in Colorado or something similar. And there's an answer for that:
"I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened," she said.
But that can't be! I mean, who would blame an underage girl for being raped by an older male? Yes, well, you know damned well who:
The victim told her mother about the pregnancy. Soon after, Phelps was also alerted.
The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for "church discipline," where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins.
She asked why. "Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation," the victim told the police.
"He told me that I should be happy that I didn't live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned."
At a night meeting of the church's fellowship in 1997, Phelps invited Willis to the front of the room. Willis apologized to the group for not being faithful to his wife, Earle said.
Phelps then told parishioners a second matter was at hand; he invited the victim to apologize for getting pregnant.
So, again, to sum up: man rapes underage girl and his punishment is to apologize for not being faithful to his wife. Underage girl is raped and she is made to apologize for getting pregnant. The lesson here can only be that if a man rapes you, and he's single, he's not doing anything wrong, and if he gets you pregnant, it's your own damn fault. It is as though women are just items of furniture to be moved about and used as men wish and, if they should "fail" (i.e. by getting pregnant when they're not supposed to), well then they're just crappy furniture.
I'm not going to pin the blame for this on religion generally, if only because I don't have the time to make that kind of a prolonged argument. But when you take that whole bit in the bible about "There are none righteous, no not one" too literally, you end up with rape victims being made to apologize for being raped.
And call me crazy, but I just have a hard time imagining Jesus Christ, or any human being with an ounce of decency, doing something like that.