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TILTON

Man named in rape trial now indicted

Stepfather faces sex assault counts

When she testified last year to being raped and impregnated as a teenager in 1997 by a married man who attended her Concord church, Tina Anderson told jurors she also had been sexually assaulted by her stepfather years earlier.

Anderson said at trial that her mother and her pastor at Trinity Baptist told her to forgive her stepfather, Daniel Leaf, for the abuse, and he never faced charges in connection with her allegations.

That changed last week, when a Merrimack County grand jury handed down two aggravated felonious sexual assault indictments charging Leaf with assaulting Anderson between 1990 and 1992, starting when she was 10 years old.

The indictments - which don't name Anderson - accuse Leaf, 52, of Tilton of intentionally touching the girl's genitalia with his penis in Concord during different time periods. Leaf is a sex offender listed on the state's registry with convictions in 1993 for felonious sexual assault and indecent exposure.

He was also convicted of second-degree assault in 1992, according to the registry. Christine Leaf, his wife and Anderson's mother, testified in court last year that her husband had been found guilty of the assault for spanking her son. She said he spent seven years in prison for the sexual assault conviction, which she said related to a victim who wasn't one of her children.

Yesterday afternoon, Christine Leaf answered the door at the couple's house in Tilton and said she did not think her husband, who was inside, would wish to comment.

"Really, I don't think we have anything to say," Christine Leaf said, asked whether her husband maintains his innocence.

The Monitor does not normally identify alleged rape victims, but through a friend yesterday Anderson confirmed she was the victim and gave permission to be named in the case. Anderson spoke to media outlets and appeared on ABC's 20/20 after the 2010 arrest of Ernest Willis, the Gilford man and former Trinity Baptist member convicted last year of raping her twice in 1997.

Anderson, who was 15 at the time of the assaults by Willis, said she was made to stand before the Clinton Street church and apologize for becoming pregnant. She was then sent to Colorado to have her baby, and the Concord police said they were unable to find Anderson. The investigation stalled until 2010, when someone mentioned Anderson's story on a Facebook page critical of fundamentalist Baptist churches.

Anderson, now 31 and living in Arizona, agreed to be interviewed by the police, which led to the charges against Willis. During last year's trial in Merrimack County Superior Court, she testified that she initially didn't tell anyone about being raped by Willis because then-Trinity Baptist pastor Chuck Phelps had told her not to pursue charges against Leaf, instructing her that "a good Christian forgives and forgets."

Phelps, now the pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, testified during the May 2011 trial that Anderson never told him she had been sexually abused by Leaf and denied ever telling her to "forgive and forget."

"I do not preach forgive and forget," he said. "I teach confront."

Christine Leaf also denied telling Anderson not to press charges and testified that she contacted the police in 1996 after her daughter said she had been abused by Daniel Leaf.

"She said to me, 'He touched me,' " Christine Leaf said during the trial. Leaf said she reported the allegations about her husband - who was in prison at the time - to a Concord detective and the state Division for Children, Youth and Families, but her daughter "never wanted to talk to the police." Anderson testified that she believed her mother had told the police she thought her daughter was lying.

The police received a report about Leaf in 1996, but "we weren't able to proceed with a prosecution," Concord police Chief John Duval said yesterday. He said he couldn't provide details late yesterday afternoon about the report and why the police weren't able to prosecute the case but described the indictments against Leaf as "a result of information that was obtained subsequent to the initial investigation of Willis."

Anderson said in a 2010 statement that Leaf abused her several times a week when she was a child and her mother was out of the house. She said she didn't feel comfortable telling anyone about the abuse until Leaf was in prison.

(Maddie Hanna can be reached at 369-3321 or mhanna@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @maddiehanna.)

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