An evangelical youth pastor from Alabama was sentenced to 1,008 years in prison after pleading guilty to over two dozen child-sex charges.
Paul Acton Bowen, a 39-year-old youth pastor, entered guilty pleas of 28 counts of sexual abuse involving six underage boys, between the ages of 13 and 16, in an Etowah County court. The charges included enticing a child for a sexual act, sodomy, traveling to meet a child for a sexual act and sexual abuse.
After several Etowah County judges recused themselves because Bowen’s ex-wife is the daughter of an Etowah County judge, Circuit Judge Debra Jones presided over the case and sentenced him to 1,008 years in prison, with the added $840,000 (R11 753 616,00) in fines.
According to AL.com, Bowen is a self-proclaimed best-selling author, who had served for 12 years in a local church, leading a citywide student Bible study in Gadsden and was also the host of xlroads TV, a worldwide broadcast viewed weekly by millions of teens and adults in every city in America and more
than 170 countries around the world.
Young boys told investigators that after they had met with Bowen through his ministry, they were abused for several years. One of the victims said the youth pastor raped him multiple times between 2006 and 2009. Another said he similar abuse from 2014 through 2017. While another said Bowen
molested him as early as in 2018.
Bowen’s attorney attempted to argue that his actions were from suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to his own experience of being sexually molested as a child.
Before Bowen’s sentencing, he read a statement to a packed courtroom, filled with faces of his victims and their families, and said: “The shame and guilt I feel is overwhelming and has been for a long time. My heart was never wanting to hurt anybody but my mind was not well”.
Family members and victims wept as the judge slowly read out the maximum sentence, on all counts and the fine. Each sentence is to run consecutively.
Bowen still faces trial in Jefferson County on three felony charges of traveling to meet a child for sex, enticing a child for a sexual act and sodomy. Trial is set on those charges for April 20, 2020. If Bowen ever should be released from jail he would be considered a “sexually violent predator,” which means he
would face a 10-year probationary period.