CONCORD, N.H. — A New Hampshire man faces a charge of felonious sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl, in a case in which a pastor and two church elders were convicted of not reporting the allegation to police.
Joel Clement, 53, of North Conway was indicted in April and arraigned last week, Conway Police said. He is free on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. His next court date has not been set.
The pastor and two elders of the Valley Christian Church in Center Conway learned of the assault allegations from the girl’s parents in September 2009, but they failed to notify police. WMWV-FM reports that the parents told police six months later.
Clement, also a church elder, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The case bears some resemblance to a Concord sexual assault case set to begin jury selection May 16.
Ernest Willis, 52, of Gilford is charged with aggravated sex assault and felonious sex assault of his children’s then 15-year-old babysitter in 1997. Both Willis and the teen were congregants of Trinity Baptist Church in Concord at the time.
Willis’s accuser, Tina Anderson of Arizona, is expected to testify when the trial opens May 23. She told The Associated Press May 4 that she is not looking forward to sharing her story, but that justice has to be done.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes, but Anderson asked that her name be made public.
She said she was humiliated when, after learning she was pregnant as a result of the assaults, she and her mother sought the counsel of then Pastor Chuck Phelps. Phelps made her stand before the congregation and apologize for getting pregnant out of wedlock. He then arranged for her to live with a Baptist family in Colorado and put her baby up for adoption.
Phelps said he promptly reported Anderson’s allegations to the Concord police. Police said they could not find Anderson to question her, and the case went unsolved for more than a decade.
Friends and on-line posts led police to Anderson in 2010. Willis was arrested several months later.
Information from: WMWV-FM, http://www.wmwv.com/index.html