Bowen Turner — the accused teen rapist whose controversially lenient sentence sparked national outrage last month — was arrested late Mother’s Day in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, and charged with public disorderly conduct.
Turner, 19, was on probation at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to five years’ probation on a single assault and battery charge just four weeks ago.
According to a report from the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office, Turner was found staggering around in the middle of a main road in Orangeburg on Sunday night and reeked of alcohol. He lied to law enforcement and threatened to bite off the finger of a deputy, the report states.
A law enforcement source familiar with the case alleged that Turner used a fake ID to buy more than $100 worth of alcohol at a local bar and made ”repeated attempts” to persuade a female employee of the bar to give him a ride home.
After his arrest, Turner allegedly referred to a female employee of the detention center as a ”bitch.”
Last month’s sentencing of Turner led to an immediate public backlash, particularly from women who saw it as a slap in the face.
Turner’s attorney, state Sen. Brad Hutto of Williams and Williams law firm in Orangeburg, who has referred to himself as the state’s ”leading advocate” of girls and women said in an email to one concerned citizen: ”The information … you have been hoodwinked to consume is vastly different than the FACTS, from the statements of witnesses, from the investigation of law enforcement and the records of medical personnel.”
Reached Monday, Hutto had no comment about Turner’s apparent breach of his plea agreement.
Though the Orangeburg County Public Index indicated that Turner received and posted a $257.50 surety bond set by county magistrate Derrick Dash, the teen was detained until Monday afternoon for a hearing related to a second charge of violating his probation.
According to multiple sources, Turner is being held without bond at the Orangeburg County Detention Center until June 8, when another hearing is scheduled in his probation violation case.
Sources tell FITSNews that it looked as though Turner had blood on his shirt during the second hearing Monday. It is not immediately clear where that blood came from.
The magistrate, Judge Meree Williamson, told the court Monday that she considered Turner a ”danger” to the community and denied bond on the probation violation charge.
Turner argued that he should be released because this was the first time he had violated his probation and he never missed a court day prior, sources said.
”He came across as entitled and showed no empathy,” a source close to the situation told FITSNews on Monday afternoon.
‘Strong Odor’ On His Breath
A deputy with the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office spotted Turner at around 11:45 p.m. May “walking towards Orangeburg” in the middle of North Road in the ”fast lane,” the incident report states.
The deputy activated his blue lights and body-worn camera upon arriving at the scene — at which point he noted Turner was “stagger(ing) as he walked” toward the deputy’s patrol vehicle.
“A strong odor of an alcoholic beverage was detected from the offender’s breath,” the deputy noted in his report.
FITSNews has filed Freedom of Information Act requests for dash-cam, body-worn camera and jailhouse video footage related to Turner’s arrest.
In addition to believing he was under the influence of alcohol, the deputy indicated that Turner provided him with “untruthful responses” as to his whereabouts prior to be stopped. According to the report, Turner originally claimed he was visiting Tads, a local bar about three miles from his house, but later said he came from “the woods.”
It is important to note that two of the three teen girls whom Turner is accused of raping — each of whom is from a different county — were assaulted in the woods late at night.
Upon being placed under arrest, Turner waived his Miranda rights and acknowledged that he had consuming three alcoholic beverages at the bar — telling the deputy he purchased these drinks on his credit card.
Aside from being illegal, Turner’s alleged underage purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages would appear to be a violation of the terms of his probation.
Prior to his sentencing April 8, Turner had been on house arrest since 2019. After several sightings that would indicate he was violating the terms of his bond agreement, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Second Circuit Solicitor’s Office requested the GPS coordinates from his ankle monitor. Between November 2021 and February 2022 along, Turner was found to have traveled outside the boundaries of his house arrest.
As of Monday, he has yet to be held accountable for the dozens of previous instances in which he flouted court orders.
Last month, First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe asked the court to hold the bond company that was supposed to be monitoring Turner’s movements in contempt.
Threatening a Deputy?
After being arrested Monday, Turner was transported in the back of a police cruiser to the Orangeburg-Calhoun regional detention center. Upon arriving at this facility, he was informed by a deputy that he must wear a mask there due to its COVID-19 protocols.
“If you try to put that mask on me I will bite your fucking finger off,” Turner allegedly said to the deputy, according to the incident report.
Only after he realized he was being recorded, Turner agreed to wear the mask.
‘Who Is Surprised?’
Turner was sentenced to probation on April 8, 2022 after he pleaded guilty to simple assault in connection with his June 2019 arrest on the charge of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. Markley agreed to a reduced charge and sentenced Turner to probation despite his 2019 arrest being the third sexual assault charge leveled against him in a period of less than two years.
Also, Turner didn’t even have to register as a sex offender.
Even worse? Turner received his plea agreement despite habitually violating the conditions of his house arrest — including visiting golf courses, shopping centers, restaurants and various private residences. Turner even left the state last December.
His case has revived interest in the Palmetto State’s controversial ankle monitoring program, which appears to feature precious little in the way of monitoring.
It wasn’t just Turner’s lenient sentence which drew outrage, though. The office of S.C. second circuit solicitor Bill Weeks decided not to prosecute him in connection with his alleged October 2018 rape of Dallas Stoller.
Stoller – whose sisters are petitioning Weeks’ office to reconsider its decision — passed away last fall amid a sustained bullying campaign.
Both Turner’s controversial plea agreement and Weeks’ decision to drop the Stoller case were negotiated between the solicitor’s office and powerful S.C. Senate leader Brad Hutto, who is representing Turner. Hutto, readers will recall, gained infamy back in 2019 when he slut-shamed one of Turner’s alleged victims.
Stoller’s family and the family of Chloe Bess — Turner’s 2019 victim — have been leading the charge for reform of the Palmetto State’s flawed “justice” system in the aftermath of last month’s travesty. In fact, both families are participating in a rally for victims’ rights this Thursday (May 12, 2022) at 9:00 a.m. EDT the S.C. State House.
FITSNews will be covering that rally …
I reached out to Dallas’ sister, Brette Tabatabai, in the aftermath of Turner’s latest arrest to get her thoughts.
“I’m unaware of the situation behind the arrest but I do hope no one was hurt and I am disappointed but not surprised given the history that he was let back out on a $275 bond,” Tabatabai told me.
Victims’ attorney Sarah Ford — who appealed Turner’s plea deal on the grounds that multiple victims’ rights were violated in the process — told me she was not surprised at the news.
“Who is surprised by Bowen Turner’s latest arrest?” Ford told me. “I’m not and I don’t think anyone else should be either. We have an individual who has shown time after time after time that he’s not capable of complying with the law. Our system has given him chance after chance that would not be given if his circumstances were different. We ALL know that. And yet — these victims are told to sit down and wait for ‘justice’ — to find out that it’s just more waiting on a system and procedures that leave their interests out of the equation.”
Ford added that the Turner case is an example of why “so many victims feel victimized by our criminal justice system.”
“They get put off and told to wait and see what happens at the plea or see what happens at the probation violation hearing or wait until the defendant ‘screws up,’” she said. “All the while, the defendant has already offended against the victim and there’s no consequence. It’s just more trauma and heartache and disappointment. The way we’re doing things IS NOT WORKING. It’s got to change. I hope people will be just as angry and frustrated by this latest development as these victims are. And I hope they will join these brave families at Thursday’s rally.”
Researcher Jenn Wood, news director Mandy Matney, director of special projects Dylan Nolan and executive editor Liz Farrell all contributed to this report.
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. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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