Attorney for teen accused of multiple sexual assaults: Depression led to bond violations
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - He was depressed and needed to get out: that’s the explanation from a lawyer legislator about why his client violated his bond dozens of times in the span of four months.
Bowen Turner, 19, of Orangeburg, faced multiple sexual assault accusations in multiple counties, court documents stated. Three teenagers accused Turner of sexual assault in 2018 and 2019: first, an unnamed victim, then Dallas Stoller and then Chloe Bess, according to documents.
The assaults—and the gossip and shame from the community—took a toll on these girls after they came forward, the victims’ attorney, Sarah Ford, says.
“There was a lot of bullying going on, and understandably, that was extremely difficult,” she says. “At some point, each of these victims had to change schools because of that.”
As a result, in November of last year, Stoller committed suicide, her family says.
“Losing Dallas, losing a child, I don’t know how to put words to that, " Karl Stoller says. “My daughters lost a sister, my wife lost a daughter.”
Meanwhile, Turner was on bond awaiting trial. A court transcript shows a judge specifically put him on “hardcore house arrest” with a GPS monitor.
He could only leave for certain reasons, including mental health appointments and meetings with his attorney.
“When he leaves the house to go to these places, and those are the only places he can go, he is not to go shopping, go to any malls, any vacations, day vacations to the beach,” Judge George McFaddin said. “It’s there and back. There will be no frolicking on those trips.”
The judge was very specific with his order, Ford says.
“In fact, he made the defendant’s parents and grandmother stand up and say that you’re going to enforce that,” she says.
But court documents allege Turner violated the court order dozens of times to go to golf courses, restaurants and stores. Bowen’s attorney, State Sen. Brad Hutto, said the reason for that was Turner suffered from depression.
Newly-obtained documents show just days before Turner was scheduled for a bond hearing for the violations, Hutto sent an email to prosecutors.
“As part of the therapy for his depression, [Turner’s] doctor told his parents that he needed to get out of the house just a little bit,” the email read.
Hutto’s email states Turner rode with his dad to meet someone selling sports memorabilia, and he rode with his grandmother to Columbia to make a return at Men’s Warehouse. Turner’s dad took him to hit golf balls after a doctor’s appointment in Graniteville, he rode with his mother to run errands in Columbia and more.
“It’s incredibly troubling that these excuses were provided,” Ford says. “I say excuses because they’re literally excuses for why the defendant was not complying 20, 30, 40 times with Judge McFaddin’s bond order.”
The email states Turner complied with his house arrest 98 percent of the time and was always accompanied by his parents or grandmother.
“What is the point of an order of the court if we’re not going to follow it?” Ford says. “Or we’re not going to make people follow it?”
Ford says people should be more worried about the girls and their mental health after, she says, they were victimized by Turner and, later, the judicial system.
“I don’t think anyone had more trauma or anxiety or depression than these three girls,” Ford says. “While I certainly don’t deny that the defendant should have gotten mental health treatment or have been taken care of in any way. I think it’s very difficult to not also wonder, ‘Where is the concern for the victims’ mental health?’”
Hutto has not responded to a request for comment.
In April, Turner pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault and battery and was given probation, Ford says. He was sentenced to five years of probation and was not required to register as a sex offender unless he violates probation during those five years.
Turner is currently behind bars in Orangeburg for multiple new charges, including violating his probation, disorderly conduct and threatening a public official.
The charges stemmed from an incident on May 9 in which deputies said Turner threatened to bite off a deputy’s finger over a face mask requirement at the county detention center, deputies say.
A judge denied bond for Turner and he is scheduled to return to court on June 8.
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