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Ex-Gilford man convicted of raping teen seeks retrial

CONCORD - Attorneys representing a former Gilford man convicted of raping his children's 15-year-old baby sitter in 1997 argued for a new trial before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Ernest P. Willis was convicted in 2011 of two counts of forcible rape and one count of felonious sexual assault for raping Tina Anderson. He is serving a 15- to 30-year prison term.

Willis' attorneys seek a new trial, claiming the trial court erred when it allowed the jury to hear an audio tape of an interview police conducted with Willis. The defense claimed the tape contained statements prejudicial to Willis and irrelevant to the case.

The defense and state also clashed over whether statements Willis made to his pastor - Charles Phelps - should have been used against him at trial. Phelps was pastor of the fundamentalist Trinity Baptist Church in Concord at the time. Both Willis and Anderson were members of the church.

The defense argued the statements Willis made to Phelps involved spiritual counseling and were protected under the rules of religious privilege. The state claims state child protection laws override the religious privilege.