An Alabama evangelist has been arrested on child sex charges.
Paul Edward Acton Bowen, 37, was arrested Tuesday by police in Hoover, Ala., and “charged with second-degree sodomy, enticing a child to enter a vehicle or house for immoral purposes, and second-degree sex abuse,” reports AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers. Police say the victim was a boy between the ages of 12 and 16. He was a “family acquaintance,” according to the site.
“This is certainly one of the more disturbing cases that we've investigated in quite some time,” Hoover Police Capt. Gregg Rector told the site. “Mr. Bowen is in a highly respected position of influence and he is trusted by many. We believe he betrayed that trust in the worst kind of way.”
The department’s special victims unit began investigating Bowen three weeks ago, Rector said. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office issued warrants for his arrest Monday. He was jailed Tuesday but released on bond early Wednesday.
Bowen is the founder of Acton Bowen Outreach Ministries. His website, which is now offline, had described him as “one of the nation's leading student pastors,” AL.com reports. It also said he is a public speaker, author, and television host. He was once on staff at the now-disbanded CrossPoint Community Church in Gadsden. He claimed to be a Fox News contributor, but Fox officials told AL.com Bowen was never employed or paid by the network.
An internet search didn’t turn up any specific anti-LGBT rhetoric on Bowen’s part, although one of his books, Escape the Noise, includes a condemnation of “sexual immorality.”
Police praised Bowen’s accuser. “The victim in this case is a brave young man and he should be commended for coming forward,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis told AL.com. “He and his family deserve our best effort and we believe that we've accomplished that. We will continue to work on their behalf as this troubling case progresses.”