Chuck Phelps was formerly the President of Maranatha Baptist College and Seminary in Watertown, Wisconsin. In my former fundamentalist/evangelical circles, this was a highly respected institution. Before Phelps came to Maranatha, he was the Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire. In 1997, when Phelps was the Pastor at Trinity, a 15 year old girl was raped twice by one of the church leaders, Ernest Willis, who is now 51. The Concord Monitor ran an article yesterday on the subject. It reads in part:
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 poor girl became pregnant and Willis offered to pay for an out-of-state abortion or to hit the girl in the stomach to cause a miscarriage.
When the girl's mother reported the situation to Pastor Phelps, he called the girl in front of the church to apologize.
Again the newspaper reported:
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."
The local TV station also ran a report on the crime yesterday. They contacted Chuck Phelps, who is now Pastor of the large Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, and Phelps was tight-lipped about the matter.
Phelps, who is now a pastor in Indianapolis, said Tuesday he reported what the teen told him to police and child welfare officials within 24 hours. Phelps would not comment when asked about his role in relocating the teen to a pastor's home in Colorado.
"I called in a report," Phelps said. "I think I've said what I need to say."
Not only is Phelps currently the Pastor of a large Baptist church but he is also currently the Vice Chairman of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, one the largest groups of independent Baptist churches in the US.
The mistreatment and abuse of children is appalling but even more so when it is covered up by Christian leaders.
BTW, the President of Maranatha Baptist College prior to Phelps was David Jaspers. He resigned in 2006 when he admitted to a “lack of modesty” during therapeutic massage. His resignation letter can be found here.