Bowen had been charged with enticing a child for sexual act, sodomy, traveling to meet a child for sexual act and sexual abuse involving at least six different victims between the ages of 13 and 16.
Paul Acton Bowen, the Alabama evangelist who served as a youth minister for teenage boys and became a best-selling Christian author was handed the maximum sentence for all 28 charges related to sexually abusing six teens in Etowah County on Friday.
The sentences are to be served consecutively which means Bowen would have to serve roughly 1,008 years before being released.
In addition, he was ordered to pay $840,000 in fines for all counts, also the maximum.
Bowen, 39, entered guilty pleas earlier this month in Etowah County to 28 counts of sexual abuse involving six male victims between the ages of 13 and 16. The charges included enticing a child for a sexual act, sodomy, traveling to meet a child for a sexual act and sexual abuse.
Circuit Judge Debra Jones presided over the case after several Etowah County judges recused themselves. Bowen’s ex-wife is the daughter of an Etowah County judge.
Moments before being sentenced, Bowen, standing in shackles, looked out on a packed courtroom and apologized in a trembling voice, both to his own family and the victims, for years of sexual abuse. “The shame and guilt I feel is overwhelming and has been for a long time,” he said. “My heart was never wanting to hurt anybody but my mind was not well.”
The Devil — umm, I mean porn made me do it!
The former youth minister also admitted to suffering with alcohol, drug abuse and “addiction to pornography”.
Family members and victims wept as Jones slowly read out the maximum sentence and fine on every count. Each sentence is to run consecutively – rather than concurrent.
Acton 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.
Acton Bowen served for 12 years in a local church, led a citywide student Bible study in Gadsden and was also the host of xlroads TV, a worldwide broadcast viewed weekly by millions of teens and adults in every city in America and more than 170 countries around the world.
The Etowah County charges dealt with young boys who told investigators that, after they met Bowen through his ministry, they were abused in several ways not only in Etowah County but during trips to different states and abroad. The young male victims told investigators the misconduct lasted months, and sometimes years.
One of the victims, a teen boy over the age of 12 but under the age of 16, said Bowen exposed him to sexual intercourse from 2006 through 2009. Another victim claims the abuse happened from 2014 through 2017, and yet another reported to lawmen that he suffered the abuse in 2018.
In the sentencing hearing, which lasted more than an hour in Etowah County, District Attorney Jody Willoughby read out one victim’s impact statement. That victim, who said his abuse happened from the age of 12 to 15, said he saw Acton Bowen as a “cool guy” who provided him with nice clothes, money and took him on trips, while at the same time, engaging in abuse.