A antigay evangelical youth pastor from Alabama was just sentenced to over 1,000 years in prison after pleading guilty to over two dozen child-sex charges.
39-year-old Paul Acton Bowen, a youth pastor and self-proclaimed best-selling author, entered guilty pleas to 28 counts of sexual abuse involving six victims, all young males between the ages of 13 and 16, in an Etowah County court last week.
The charges included enticing a child for a sexual act, sodomy, traveling to meet a child for a sexual act, and sexual abuse. 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. And another said Bowen molested him in 2018.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Debra Jones sentenced Bowen to 1,008 years in prison plus ordered him to pay $840,000 in fines. But his legal troubles aren’t over yet.
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 on his Etowah County convictions–which prosecutors said was unlikely–he would be considered a “sexually violent predator,” which means he would face a 10-year probationary period.
Bowen’s attorney tried arguing that his client suffered from PTSD from his own experiences of being sexually molested as a minor.
Just before his sentencing, Bowen read a statement to the packed courtroom, which included several 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.”
Police say they believe there are more victims who have yet to come forward. District Attorney Jody Willoughby has vowed to prosecute any additional cases against Bowen.
“There’s not a question in my mind,” he said. “If anyone is out there who wants to come forward, please let law enforcement know. We will get justice, justice will be had.”