A controversially lenient sentence doled out in one of the three rape cases against Orangeburg, South Carolina “fortunate son” Bowen Turner is headed to the Palmetto State’s second-highest court for review … assuming the judges take the case, anyway.
According to Ford’s filing – which was submitted on behalf of victim Chloe Bess – an “appellate review” is sought of circuit court judge Markley Dennis’ refusal to hear multiple motions from the victim during a sentencing hearing for Turner earlier this month in Orangeburg, S.C.
This news outlet does not ordinarily name victims of sexual assault, but Bess and her family have come forward in the hopes of shining a light on the mistreatment of victims by South Carolina’s system of “justice.”
As this news outlet reported earlier this month, Turner pleaded guilty to one count of assault in connection with his June 2019 arrest on the charge of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. The 2019 charge was the third sexual assault charge leveled against Turner in a period of less than two years.
Turner received probation as part of his plea deal – and did not even have to register as a sex offender.
The lenience displayed toward Turner has (rightfully) sparked a wave of public revulsion – and highlighted the Palmetto State’s ongoing issues when it comes to coddling violent criminals (especially those represented by powerful lawyer-legislators).
According to Ford’s filing, Dennis refused to allow Bess to be heard – and to have her statement “meaningfully considered” – prior to his consideration of the plea deal negotiated between the office of S.C. second circuit solicitor Bill Weeks and influential S.C. senator Brad Hutto.
Hutto – the ranking Democrat in the S.C. General Assembly – gained infamy in this case when he slut-shamed one of the alleged victims three years ago.
My news outlet has been beating this drum for a long time … because prosecutors and judges across the state have been conspiring to deny victims’ rights for a long time.
“Victim’s counsel moved to be heard on these motions … prior to sentencing,” Ford wrote in her request to the appeals court.
In other words, the Turner plea never should have been adopted prior to the victims’ motions being heard.
Also, one of the motions submitted by Ford would have resulted in Turner being hauled off to prison given his habitual violation of the conditions of his bond. As I reported two weeks ago, Turner violated his bond on literally dozens of occasions – visiting golf courses, shopping centers, restaurants and various private residences.
“Three motions were presented at (Turner’s) guilty plea hearing but (all) were disallowed by the court,” Ford’s motion noted.
According to her, these denials violated South Carolina’s constitutional crime victims’ bill of rights – which expressly affords victims the right to “be heard at proceedings affecting bond, bail, release, pleas or sentencing.”
“Nationally, South Carolina is looked to as a leader in victims rights,” Ford told me. “Under South Carolina law, victims have significant rights. However, when victims are unable to assert those rights and their rights are treated as a check mark instead of being meaningfully considered, that is a problem.”
To read Ford’s appeal for yourself, click the document below …
NOTICE OF APPEAL …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (but he gave them up for Lent this year).
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