Bowen Turner, a 19-year-old South Carolina resident whose light sentence in a rape case made national headlines, was arrested in Orangeburg for public disorderly conduct on Monday morning.
Turner was accused of rape by three teenagers from 2018 to 2019. In April 2022, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in the third case and was sentenced under the Youth Offender Act not to exceed six years, suspended to five years of probation. The first allegation is still under investigation, and his second alleged victim died in November 2021, prompting the prosecutor to drop that case. Turner is also required to complete sex offender counseling during his probation but won’t have to register as a sex offender unless he violates his probation.
The arrest on Monday, first reported by local outlet FitsNews, took place at 12:30 a.m., Latasha Riley, an Orangeburg County Detention Center records supervisor, told BuzzFeed News.
According to an incident report obtained by BuzzFeed News, a sheriff's deputy spotted Turner walking in the middle of the road slightly before midnight on Sunday. The deputy turned on his patrol car’s blue lights and Turner “staggered” as he walked towards the vehicle.
His breath smelled like alcohol, the report stated, and he “provided untruthful responses” when asked where he was coming from, first claiming that he was coming from a bar on North Road before saying he was coming from the woods. After being arrested and placed in the back of the patrol car, he told the deputy that he had three drinks at a bar despite being underage.
Once at the detention center, Turner refused to put on a mask per the facility's policy, and told the deputy, “If you try to put that mask on me I will bite your fucking finger off.” Turner complied after being told that he was being recorded, the report stated.
Turner was charged with violating his probation, and on Thursday faced additional charges of the purchase or possession of alcohol as a minor and threatening a public employee.
If found to have violated probation, Turner could face a maximum of six years in prison in accordance with his sentence, Allie Menegakis, a criminal justice attorney and director of South Carolina for Criminal Justice Reform, told BuzzFeed News.
Turner's bond was set at $257.50, court records show. He was denied bond at a hearing on Monday afternoon.
Turner's attorney, state Sen. Brad Hutto, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Turner's sentence was widely criticized by the families of the alleged victims and sexual assault victim advocates.
“We have a law in South Carolina that victims’ rights are to be as zealously protected as defendants’,” Sarah Ford, an attorney with the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network representing two of the families, previously told BuzzFeed News. “And I guess my question is, Is that what happened here? Because these victims certainly don't feel that way.”
The family of Turner's second accuser, Dallas Stoller, has petitioned for the prosecutor's office to reopen her case and is slated to rally at the South Carolina statehouse on Thursday.