Photo Credits: Nation Swell
Paul Edward Acton Bowen, the Alabama evangelist, author and public speaker who hosted a TV show, pleaded guilty this December after he was arrested in 2018 on allegations of sexual abuse of children. Now he was given 1,008 years in prison on 28 counts of sex crimes against six young boys, between 13 and 16 years old, after a judge handed down the maximum sentence on every count. Bowen met the children through his ministry and performed different criminal acts afterwards. Many of the victims, who are now young men, have provided detailed accounts with substantial evidence about Bowen's wrongdoing.
This is maybe the first time in American history that a religious leader has received an appropriate sentence for sexually abusing young kids bearing in mind that charges that Bowen faced included sexual abuse, sodomy, enticing a child for sex and traveling to meet a child for sexual abuse. Besides prison time, a maximum monetary fine was imposed valued at $840,000. Even though he was sentenced to more than a millennium in prison, there are other cases likely to come and still pending charges in other jurisdictions. New victims came forward after Bowen was arrested so in the end his sentence might be even higher.
Acton Bowen first tried to avoid sentence by pleading not guilty by reason of mental disorder but afterwards he pleaded guilty as his first trial was set to begin in order not to go through a trial. He tried to apologize to his own family and victims in the courtroom. “The shame and guilt I feel is overwhelming and has been for a long time,” he said, as The New York Times reports. “My heart was never wanting to hurt anybody but my mind was not well.” But his behavior after his arrest throws a shadow of doubt on his apology. The question is whether or not his apology is an honest one and whether he accepted his responsibility.
According to Patheos, prosecutors say Bowen tried calling his victims to get them to testify for him instead of against him. He also offered a number of mitigating factors at the sentencing hearing, like saying he was abused as a child. He told psychologists he was sexually abused as a child. “The hurt that they feel, I understand,” Bowen said, as Patheos reports. “I understand it all too well.” With all of this and his first try to plead not guilty because of mental disorder, it seems like he did not accept his responsibility for serious things he did.