Skip to comments.Supreme Court upholds rape conviction, rejects religious privilege argument
Posted on 08/22/2013 7:16:39 AM PDT by Morgana
The state Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the rape and sexual assault convictions against Ernest Willis who is serving a 15-to-30 year prison sentence for forcibly raping his teenage babysitter twice, whom he knew through Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, in 1997.
The court issued its ruling this morning.
The girl, who became pregnant, was later made to stand before their congregation to apologize by then-pastor Chuck Phelps. A Merrimack County jury convicted Ellis of three counts of rape and one count of felonious sexual assault in 2011.
Williss attorneys appealed the conviction on several grounds, including the admission of testimony from Phelps, who told jurors Willis had confessed to twice having sexual contact with the 15-year-old girl and described himself as the aggressor.
In their appeal, attorneys for Willis asked the Supreme Court justices to decide whether the trial court erred in deciding that conversations between Willis and his Phelps werent protected by religious privilege.
(Excerpt) Read more at mobile.concordmonitor.com ...
I thought that was attorney client privilege?
“Where There’s A Will;There’s A Way”?
Apparently the child molester confessed to the “pastor” and the child molester was trying to keep that confession out of court.
Is Chuck related to Fred?
What is it with guys named Phelps pastoring churches?
Are there no millstones for Willis?
I hope the congregation has worked to make amends to the girl.
I thought that if a lawyer knew a crime was committed he has the obligation to report it. Same with religious privilege. Maybe a lawyer person here can answer .....
**whom he knew through Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, in 1997.**
Most rapes/sexual molestations are carried out by someone the child already knows.
“Is Chuck related to Fred?
What is it with guys named Phelps pastoring churches?”
Was wondering the same thing. Remind me never to go to a church that has a “Phelps” pastoring it.
I don’t know the details regarding the confession by Willis to the pastor. In almost all instances of true confession, I’d be on the side of the confidentiality of the confessional.
Just talking to your pastor is not “the confessional”.
The whole point of an exception is that it must be in regard to a religious moment taking place at that time in the life of the confessee.
I don’t consider discussing baseball scores, also a conversation be pastor and parishioner, to be confidential.
Nor will I consider confidential anything about a crime that one PLANS to commit that will potential injure someone. I tell them that ahead of time. Both the penitent and I have a duty to prevent that injury from taking place.
It is entirely possible that Willis came to his pastor in a religious moment seeking guidance. That is something I would consider absolutely confidential.
If a discussion is about how to keep it from coming out in public, then I don’t consider that religious.
Sharia law will overturn this principle.
In most states clergy (along with doctors, therapists, etc.) are classified as mandated reporters when it comes to child abuse. The protection of the minor trumps the clergy-confessor relationship.
True, and as Protestant Christians confessing a sin does not mean you get off scott free, you still need to make amends or answer to justice. When a serious crime is committed the pastor should council the person to give himself up and confess to the police then do it himself if this person does not turn himself in.
He needs to not just shepherd this one man but his flock and the community as a whole from further damage or danger.
I know that was the case for chaplains in the military, a requirement to report. But most of us chaplains realized that the confidentiality was the only reason people would self-report. Obviously, if you know you’re going to get reported, for the most part you won’t talk to anyone.
Many chaplains ignored that must report provision, and particularly Catholic Chaplains for whom the confession, iirc, is a sacrament.
If there is no safe place to disclose, then folks won’t disclose.
Before counseling with anyone, I would always tell them straight up what I would and what I would not disclose. That put it in their ballpark.
Only if that's your agreement ahead of time.
I am absolutely honest about what will and what will not be confidential. I will tell a person that if they have done x,y,or z that I must report if they tell me.
If they reveal, I'll encourage them to self-report and I'll go with them.
But I'll not give the impression something is confidential and then play "gotcha" with a person. That is a violation of confidentiality AND of integrity.
So a guy comes to you and says, “I have raped my babysitter and would like to confess this sin.”
To you, the pastor should keep it confidential?
And what if he comes back the next week with the exact same confession because he did it again?
Do you at least have a 3 strikes you’re out policy when it comes to child molestation? Or in your view could this guy go on indefinitely?
ok. Your #13 makes sense.
So what you are saying is that it is up to the person he confesses this information to, to then say “no go confess to the police because it’s the right thing to do?” Or at least that is what they should have done?
I have also seen your #15, so I know we agree for the most part.
However, there is such a thing as a religious moment that hits someone, and they go to the pastor and get it off their chest in a time of confession and prayer. I would consider that confidential.
The NEXT time it’s done, it is common for the discussion to turn in the direction of “how do I keep this from becoming public?” I don’t consider that to be a religious moment.
In any case, unless a moment just happens, I’m very clear about what is or is not going to be kept confidential.
If you tell me someone is GOING TO BE injured, then it hasn’t happened yet, and there is a responsibility to keep it from happening. (That includes real suicide threats.)
The abuse cycle means that abusers have a strong tendency to abuse again. But I’ll not misrepresent to people. I won’t tell them something is confidential and then go turn them in.
Right. No matter what I’d encourage the person to given himself/herself up.
In the long run, that’s what’s best.
Most counselors tell their clients up front that they are obligated to report certain confessions of crimes to the police.
In this case, the pastor gave his testimony in court. And the child molester tried to get the testimony thrown out.
Additionally, I would like to know at what point the pastor made the rape victim “confess her sin” in front of church.
Did he make her confess knowing that she was raped by the older man? Or was that fact not known yet?
Lawyer person here:
1. If a lawyer is told by a client that the client committed a crime (past tense), the lawyer is duty-bound by confidentiality not to say anything about it.
2. The lawyer cannot, however, represent to the court that the client did not commit the crime. (This doesn’t mean the lawyer can’t question the sufficiency of the evidence and cross-examine and present evidence of alternate scenarios. In other words, “There’s not enough evidence my client did X” is fine. “My client didn’t do X” isn’t.
3. The lawyer also can’t help hide any evidence.
4. Religious privilege is really rooted in priest-penitent privilege. Without splitting a bunch of ecclesiastical hairs, the Catholic faith believes that when you speak with your priest it is a conduit to God, and hence is not discoverable. Other faiths, which do not carry that belief, do not have the same privilege. So, if you’re a Catholic, it’s safe to blab to your priest about your misdeeds; if you’re a Methodist or Lutheran or pretty much anything else, I’d think twice about it.