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Judge Sentences South Carolina Man Accused Of Multiple Sexual Assaults To Probation
Chloe Bess, one of Bowen Turner's victims, said she is "extremely disappointed" after he was sentenced to five years probation on a lesser charge.
Victims and supporters are outraged that a South Carolina judge sentenced a 19-year-old man, charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, to five years probation.
On Friday, Bowen Turner pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and battery against Chloe Bess. The attack took place on June 2, 2019, at 3 a.m. at a party, in Orangeburg County, according to the Times and Democrat.
Bess said she was “extremely disappointed,” with the sentencing at a news conference.
“I just feel like no matter what we say it falls on deaf ears,” Bess said. “It’s a very defeating feeling, but I refuse to be defeated.”
“In reality, justice will not be served here today and this is but a formalized stage of a prearranged dance that was choreographed in secrecy and is nothing the victims support,“ her father, the Rev. Dr. Darren Bess said, according to the Times and Democrat.
Circuit Judge Markley Dennis sentenced Bowen under the Youthful Offender Act.
“If he has completed five years without any violations and has done all the counseling necessary, then he will not have to register as a sex offender,” Dennis said during Friday’s sentencing, according to Fox News. People in the court groaned after he made that statement, the outlet reported.
At the time of the assault on Bess, Turner was out on bond after being charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with aggravated force against Dallas Hayes Stroller. He was 16 years old.
Stroller made the accusation against Turner on Oct. 7, 2018. She died on November 24, 2021. The case was dismissed after Stroller’s death.
Dallas’ heartbroken father spoke at Turner’s sentencing.
“Dallas attended a party in Bamberg County. She was brought home from the party heavily intoxicated and would ultimately be found to be sexually assaulted later that night,” Karl Stroller said.
Stroller’s family said they felt as if the case didn’t matter to the Second Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The case should have been handled by South Carolina First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, but Turner’s father, Walt, works there as an investigator so it was transferred to the second circuit, according to FitsNews.
Turner’s attorney is South Carolina State Senator Brad Hutto.
Stoller told the court that Dallas “made the difficult decision to move forward with the case, all the while knowing because of who her alleged attacker was, she would be a target of personal attacks in the community.”
He continued: “Today’s events are nothing more than a public show with the intent for the defendant to not spend one moment in jail — seemingly fully supported by the (Second Circuit) Solicitor’s Office, the one agency who was tasked to be the voice of the victims and to do the very best they could to find justice for them.
“I could fully accept whatever outcome was decided if I felt and fully believed all families were well-represented by the solicitor’s office and they truly did the best job they could. This is a very sad day for victims in our state.”
Turner has been accused of violating the terms of his house arrest. According to court documents, the GPS monitor shows that he made at least 19 trips to golf courses. He also visited restaurants, a sporting goods store, and a car dealership.
He traveled to Columbia, Graniteville and out of state to Brunswick, Georgia.
“[He has] multiple bond violations,” Darren Bess told WCSC. “He was out on bond when this happened to Chloe. It’s like he keeps getting pass after pass after pass.”
Sarah Ford, attorney for the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, told Oxygen.com that she tried multiple times to have the bond company held in civil or criminal contempt.
Ford said she also asked the judge to reject the plea deal because it was not what the victims wanted.
“What these victims experienced is really tragic,” Ford said. “If Bowen Turner does everything he is supposed to do these charges could ultimately be expunged, but there’s nothing the victims can do to get rid of what happened to them. … Our victims deserve better.”
She is appealing.
Dallas Stroller’s sisters have created a website, #JusticeForDallas, to bring attention to the case.
“Every victim deserves a voice. Although Dallas is no longer with us, we will continue to fight to be heard not only for our sister but for other Victims as well,” they wrote. “Politics and privilege cannot prevail, it has been three and a half years and justice needs to be served!”