Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rev Charles Phelps resigns from Bob Jones University board

As I mentioned on my radio show yesterday, Reverend Chuck Phelps has resigned from the board of Bob Jones University.

As usual, our local mainstream media initially said absolutely NOTHING about this situation and it was therefore left to the bloggers to take the lead. In fact, bloggers were actually singled out as Bad Boogeyman in BJU's original, official statement about the case, which has now been yanked from their website, and ceremoniously dropped down the infamous BJU memory hole. There is now a Revised Standard Version in its place (am I funny or what?). You will note the major edits in the second statement.

High-fives all round to the other bloggers, especially intrepid Camille Lewis, for doggedly staying on the case. It is true that many bloggers have piled on, and in reply, we say, SOMEBODY HAD TO COVER THE STORY.

There has been more coverage in New Hampshire than here in South Carolina, which is just shameful.

To recap, rape-apologist Phelps was appointed to the BJU board, causing a firestorm of controversy among BJU students, alumni, and fellow-travelers, as well as long-time critics of the institution.

And now, a day late and a dollar short, the Greenville News has at last deigned to cover the controversy. I am printing this story in its entirety, since the Greenville News is not accessible to everyone.

Italics mine.

BJU trustee resigns, denies allegations
By Ron Barnett, Staff Writer

A member of Bob Jones University’s Cooperating Board of Trustees resigned Friday amid an online campaign seeking his removal over allegations about how he responded to a 1997 rape case involving two members of a church he then headed in New Hampshire — allegations that he said are untrue.

The online petition alleged that the Rev. Chuck Phelps required the rape victim, 16 at the time, to apologize to the church and linked to an ABC 20/20 report earlier this year on the case. Phelps told that the accusation is false.

“I totally deny that ever happening. That did not happen,” Phelps said. “She came before the congregation and asked for the congregation’s help in a time of need, and her specific words that she wrote herself were that she had been in a compromising relationship. Those were her words.”

Phelps told that he talked with the perpetrator at the time and recognized that a crime had been committed, and he reported it to the police. He referred to his website,, for details and said he wouldn’t allow a teenager now to present such personal issues to the congregation.

ABC reported that Tina Anderson became pregnant after being raped twice in the summer of 1997 when she was 15 and was a babysitter for church member Ernest Willis. Records show Willis was then 38.

Attempts by to reach Anderson were unsuccessful.

Anderson told the network that she was forced to confess her “sin” — that she was pregnant — in front of her Independent Fundamental Baptist congregation. At the same meeting, Willis confessed that he had been unfaithful to his wife, ABC reported.

Phelps said he is offended by the statement that he “made” Anderson stand before the church for what critics have called a “shaming.” Although she was 15 when she was raped, she was 16 at the time she made her public statement, which made her “a young adult, basically” at the time, Phelps said.

Anderson said Willis had forced himself on her in the back seat of a car while giving her driving lessons, and later at her home, 20/20 reported. Willis was convicted in May of three counts of forcible rape and a count of felonious sexual assault, ABC reported.

Phelps says he believes it was his testimony in Willis’ trial that “put him away.”

The university announced Phelps’ resignation Friday at a board meeting.

“Board Chairman, Dr. Bob Jones III, read a letter from Dr. Chuck Phelps in which Dr. Phelps voluntarily tendered his resignation from the Cooperating Board effective immediately,” the university said in a statement. “In submitting his resignation, Dr. Phelps expressed that he did not want anything to distract BJU from its mission.”

“We are grateful to Dr. Phelps for his many years of loyal service to his alma mater as a member of the board of trustees,” Jones said in the statement.

Phelps, who had been on the BJU board previously and left it when he became president of another Christian college, rejoined the board in 2009 after leaving the college job and going back to the ministry at a church in Indiana, BJU spokesman Brian Scoles said.

Phelps says he reported the crime to police but “never received any follow-up communication” from them. A spokesman for the Concord (N.H.) Police Department couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Concord Monitor reported that police said their investigation stalled because they couldn’t find the victim after she moved to Colorado to live with a family Phelps was friends with a few weeks after realizing that she was pregnant.

Phelps said the move was Anderson’s mother’s choice and that the police knew how to get in touch with her while she was there, as well as before she left New Hampshire, and on return visits.

“It is regrettable that the law enforcement community failed to follow up in a timely fashion on reports filed by me and by Tina’s mother,” Phelps wrote on his website. “Had the law enforcement community worked to provide justice for Tina in 1997 there would be no story or confusion in 2011.”

The trial judge ordered Phelps to testify about his conversations with Willis in the aftermath of Anderson’s revelation that he had impregnated her, saying they didn’t qualify as confidential communication with a pastor because Willis hadn’t come to Phelps to confess or seek counseling, The Monitor reported.

Willis has filed notice of intent to appeal the guilty verdict to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, with one of the grounds being that pastoral confidence was broken, the newspaper reported.

Phelps said the police violated his confidence in identifying him as the person who reported the rape. They “were informed by my attorney that they were potentially liable for a defamation suit and they have not said a word since, and very wisely,” Phelps said.

Several Facebook groups with hundreds of members, including some who identified themselves as part of the BJU community, sprang up when word got out that Phelps was back on the board.

BJU students who opposed Phelps being on the board created a Facebook group called Do Right BJU and said they had planned to protest by wearing red during chapel service on Dec. 12, at the end of the semester.

“A sea of red during chapel and on Facebook could help change everything!” the moderator wrote.

Phelps didn’t attend Friday’s board meeting, and no replacement for him on the board has been named, according to [Brian] Scoles, the BJU spokesman.

Phelps was one of about 100 members of BJU’s Cooperating Board, according to Scoles.

He wasn’t a member of the board’s executive committee, which makes recommendations on who sits on the larger board, Scoles said, but as a member of the cooperating board, he had a vote in setting BJU policy.
Aside: Where is resident BJU media-flunky Jonathan Pait? Anybody know? Why is this second-stringer, Scoles, being called in to deal with this shitstorm?

Hm, peculiar.

And the saga continues.


Chuckles said...

From post on Do Right BJU. Another Willis victim speaks out:

"Chuck Phelps lied to his congregation.
I was a member of his church.
I was friends with Phelps' daughter.
I was friends with Tina.
I also babysat Ernie Willis' kids.
After the "confession" my mother went to Linda Phelps to see if it was still "okay" for me to babysit. She told my mother she had nothing to worry about...

I DID have something to worry about. A rapist doesn't usually stop with one victim. Ernie started stalking/sexually harassing me later on. But I KNEW what happened to Tina when she told someone. So instead I moved 400 miles to get away from him (I was 18 and actually left Trinity at 18 primarily because of how this was handled. I was a child but I KNEW it was wrong). I also went to the police first and explained what happened to me. As soon as I moved he moved on to another person (outside of Trinity). When that woman's pastor went to Phelps about it (after she heard about Tina) Phelps said that person was "not a reliable source" since she was not a member of his congregation. I'm sure that person was not his last victim either. But PHELPS KNEW AND ADMITTED IN COURT THAT ERNIE SAID HE WAS THE 'AGGRESSOR' - and did NOT do his part to get a perp off the streets. I sat in the court room in May, watching my former pastor shed tears for the RAPIST and continue to BLAME THE VICTIM. He testified that Ernie said he was the aggressor - and that it happened twice - yet he still called Tina a liar on the stand. Her story has NEVER changed in the 15 years since her rape. NEVER. Phelps story changes hourly - often conflicting his own "website" - his testimony in court, statements he made to the congregation, his own notes from 1997, etc.

Phelps also knew about another classmate of ours being sexually abused by a step father. again, no police reports from this person exist either. this crime was in another town so you can't say the Concord Police Dept failed twice."

lorinda said...

Revised Standard Version--lol. Thanks for getting this info out there, Daisy.

The_L said...

I think you've just summed up the reasons why I'm no longer Christian and have a severe hate-on for "Bible colleges" like BJU.

EDIT: Odd, OpenID is on the fritz.

QueenKnitter said...

So it's okay, I guess, for him to shame a "woman" (at 16)? Is that what he's saying?

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Pait now works for the Alumni Association. Brian Scoles took Pait's position.

JoJo said...

I know Phelps is a common name, but I wonder if he's related to those wack jobs from the Westboro Baptist Church?

Transcript said...

Bob Jones III discusses Chuck Phelps

Laffing It Up Over Abuse said...

Audio excerpt from the December 9, 2011 Bob Jones University Faculty/Staff Meeting. BJU Executive Vice President Marshall Franklin yuks it up with the faculty and staff over the student-led Do Right BJU effort to raise campus awareness about sexual abuse.

Benice said...

OK....let's see....rev. Phelps was told of this situation and he promptly reported to the police and attempted to help thevictim avoid any negative publicity by finding a safe place to stay for awhile, at her mother's request. Was that not proper and sufficient? Should he have taken the law into his own hands and dragged the perp down to the police station in chains?
There has been very little common sense brought to this issue. Automatically, the pastor is blamed for everything...regardless.
If blame is to be placed, it first goes to the rapist, then to the police. Of course, liberals will always a Christian to blame. And, if he happens to be a pastor, then they really pile on!