Bowen Turner is a 19-year-old South Carolina man accused of raping three women and convicted in one case whose sentence of probation has sparked outrage. Turner was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty as a youthful offender to first-degree assault and battery, court records show. Turner, an accused serial rapist, will not register as a sex offender as a result of the plea. He was also accused of violating the conditions of his bond several times after his arrest.
Judge Markley Dennis sentenced Turner in April 2022 in Orangeburg County court. If he follows the terms of his probation, his conviction could be expunged from his record and he will not have to register as a sex offender, according to court records. Turner was originally charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but his guilty plea is to a lesser charge, The Times and Democrat, an Orangeburg newspaper, reported. He could also have his probation shortened, according to the newspaper. He could have faced up to 30 years in prison on the original charge. Turner, of Orangeburg, will have to follow sex offender registry rules during his probation, the newspaper reports.
Reverend Dr. Darren Bess, the father of one of the victims, said during Turner’s April 8, 2022, sentencing hearing, “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,” The Times and Democrat reported. One of the sexual assault accusations against Turner was dropped after the accuser’s death, despite objections from her family and advocates that prosecutors should have had enough evidence to move forward without her being able to testify.
Turner, his attorney and his family have not commented about the case or the national attention the sentence has received. Turner’s lawyer is Brad Hutto, a South Carolina Democratic state senator. Second Circuit Deputy Solicitor David Miller, who prosecuted the case, has also not commented. And Judge Markley Dennis has not made any statements about the backlash to his sentencing decision. Dennis has also drawn criticism for barring a local TV news reporter from entering the public courtroom during the sentencing hearing. The case quickly gained viral attention on social media after Turner was sentenced and after it was highlighted in a thread by FITS News reporter Mandy Matney.
Here’s what you need to know about Bowen Turner:
1. Bowen Turner Was Accused of Dragging a Teen Girl Behind a Truck at a Party & Sexually Assaulting Her & of Sexually Assaulting Another Teen While She Was Intoxicated in 2018; He Was Not Charged in a Third Rape Accusation Made Against Him
Bowen Gray Turner was first accused of rape in October 2018. Dallas Stoller, then 17, accused Turner of raping and beating her at a party while she was intoxicated, according to court records and Stoller’s family. Heavy does not typically identify victims of sexual assault, but her family has used her name and photo publicly in an effort to raise awareness to the case. Turner was arrested in that case in 2018. The case was dropped by the solicitor’s office in 2022 after Stoller died, her family said.
Her father, Kirk Stoller, said in court, according to The Times and Democrat, “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.” He said she, “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 and insults in the community.”
Turner had been arrested in that case in January 2019. While on $10,000 bond in the Stoller case, Turner was accused of sexually assaulting another teen, Chloe Bess. She and her family have also come forward publicly to speak out against what they say is a lenient sentence for Turner. According to court documents, Bess was at a party on June 2, 2019, and went outside about 3 a.m. to call a friend. She told police Turner pulled her behind a truck, pushed her to the ground, pulled off her clothes and “forced himself sexually on her.”
Chloe Bess, then 16, told police, according to WCSC, “I just remember being so petrified, like, I was frozen. I honestly just remember sitting there looking at the stars just praying for it to be done, waiting for it to be over with, so I could run away. … There’s not a day since this happened that I haven’t woken up and thought about it.”
Turner was arrested in the Bess case in June 2019. Court records showed he had initially been on a GPS monitor after his January 2019 arrest, but the tracking device was removed in April 2019 at his attorney’s request. Turner was 16 when he was accused of the sexual assaults, but he was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct as an adult in both cases. He was sentenced as a youthful offender.
According to The Times and Democrat, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), investigated a third sexual assault accusation made against Turner, but no charges were filed in that case. Details of that case have not been made public. According to FITS News, the accusation was made in April 2018 in Calhoun County, but it was not clear when the sexual assault was alleged to have occurred.
2. Turner Violated the Terms of His Pre-Trial Release by Attending Golf Courses 19 Times, Eating at Restaurants, & Leaving the State, According to Court Records; the Local Victim Advocate Plans to Appeal His Sentence
Sarah Ford, who represents the accusers through the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, has said she plans to appeal the sentence against Turner. She also filed a petition in court asking the judge to take Turner into custody for violating his probation, court records show. A motion to revoke Turner’s bond included in Ford’s filing details the several times Turner violated the terms of his release on bail. Miller, the deputy solicitor, had sought to have Turner jailed in March 2022 prior to his sentencing.
According to court documents, after Turner was arrested in the Bess case he was ordered to be on house arrest at his grandmother’s house. In March 2020, his release conditions were modified to allow him to also stay at his parents’ house, records show. But the solicitor’s office said he violated those conditions numerous times.
Turner went to golf courses in violation of his bond more than 19 times, according to court documents. He was also accused of eating at restaurants, going shopping and leaving the state of South Carolina to go to a car dealership in Georgia, records show. The full documents can be seen here and here.
3. Bowen Turner’s Parents Are James Walter Turner & Jennifer Baugh Turner; His Father, Walt Turner, Is an Investigator for First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe
Bowen Turner is the son of James Walter Turner and Jennifer Baugh Turner, according to public records. He grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and attended Orangeburg Prep High School, where he played football. His mother, Jennifer Turner, deleted her social media profiles, including her Facebook page, amid the attention around the case. His father, who goes by Walt Turner, is an investigator for the First Circuit Solicitor’s Office, according to his LinkedIn profile. The elder Turner has worked for the prosecutor since 2005, according to his LinkedIn.
According to FITS News, the case was handled by the office of Second Circuit Solicitor Bill Weeks because of Turner’s father’s ties to First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, whose office covers Orangeburg County. The sexual assault accusation against Turner made by Dallas Stoller was in Bamberg County, which is covered by Weeks’ office. Weeks’ deputy, David Miller, prosecuted the case, according to court records.
Walt Turner also attended Orangeburg Prep, according to the school’s website and he and his family have long ties to the Orangeburg commmunity. He joined Pascoe’s office in 2005 when he was first elected as the solicitor, according to an article from the time in The Times and Democrat. Turner previously worked in Orangeburg with the state Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole, the newspaper reported.
4. Turner’s Victim & the Family of One of His Accusers, Who Died in 2021, Have Spoken Out About the Sentence He Received
Chloe Bess’ father, who was a pastor in Orangeburg, said in court, according to The Times and Democrat, “Not only feel victimized by the defendant but also by the very system of justice that was meant to protect our daughter and others. We have experienced a catastrophic failure of this system and it impacts my family daily.”
Kirk Stoller said in court, according to The Times and Democrat, “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 indeed a very sad day for victims in our state.”
Stoller’s sisters have turned to social media and created a website called #JusticeforDallas to post information about Turner and the sexual assault case. They have posted videos on Instagram blasting the sentence Turner received and the decision by prosecutors to drop the charges against him related to their sister’s case.
WCSC reported, “The trauma, the gossip and stress weighed heavy on Dallas Stoller, even after high school, until last fall, according to her family.” She died on November 14, 2021. Her sister Bette Tabatabai told the news station, “Where are the victims’ rights. There are no victims’ rights. It’s been 3-and-a-half- years, where are they? And he’s dismissing that because she’s passed away.”
5. Turner’s Attorney, Brad Hutto, Who Ran for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 2014 & Is the Minority Leader in the State Senate, Was Accused of ‘Slut-Shaming’ One of the Victims During a Hearing in 2019
The case previously received attention in 2019 because of comments made by attorney Brad Hutto, a longtime Democratic state senator and the senate minority leader who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014. FITS News said Hutto “slut-shamed” one of the victims during a hearing. Hutto said in court that the victim had said she felt “ashamed” after the sexual assault.
According to FITS News, Hutto said in court, “Well, guess what? You just had sex on the ground with a boy you didn’t really know and you got up and you feel ashamed, you feel regret, that’s not rape. … She did not object, she did not scratch, she did not push, she did not call out. When asked point blank if she said, ‘no,’ she didn’t. When asked point blank if she said ‘stop,’ she didn’t.” The news site also reported Hutto said Turner should be removed from juvenile detention because, “he’s not a gang member.”
Hutto and deputy solicitor David Miller have both been criticized by Stoller’s family. Stoller’s aunt wrote on Facebook, “Please everyone keep an eye on this man-DAVID MILLER. Keep an eye on his career because it’s almost a sure bet that he will become a SC judge after what he did for Brad Hutto in this case. DAVID MILLER -the SC solicitor appointed to represent Dallas and Chloe in the sexual assault prosecution against Bowen Turner-is no better than the defendant (Bowen Turner) himself!”
She added, “David Miler NEVER ONCE MET with the families during the 3&1/2 years that he ALLOWED their cases to be delayed. David Miller agreed to let Brad Hutto delay these cases over and over again for almost 4 years!! Dragging it out until he said it was too late to take Dallas’s case to court. During the entire 3 and 1/2 years DAVID MILLER never spoke with the families (NOT ONCE) until last Wednesday- April 6th. And on that day (Via Zoom, not face to face) DAVID MILLER told the family that he was DROPPING THE CASE BECAUSE (and I quote)… ‘SHE IS NOT HERE TO SAY IT WAS NOT CONSENSUAL. IT’S NOT WORTH MY TIME, THE COURT’S TIME, NOR 12 POTENTIAL JURORS’ TIME FOR A CASE THAT I CANNOT WIN.’