Stephen Bratton, a Texas pastor who famously backed a proposed bill that would punish women who get an abortion by charging them with murder, has been arrested for allegedly molesting a teenage relative, The Houston Chronicle reports. Bratton allegedly sexually assaulted the victim multiple times per day.
Back in April of this year, the Texas Legislature considered a bill that would impose the death penalty on women who get an abortion. As The Root reported at the time, Republican Rep. Tony Tinderholt re-introduced a bill — which he tried and failed to pass two years ago — that would charge women with murder if they get an abortion, as well as the doctor who performed the procedure. Since murder is punishable by death in Texas, the bill would essentially criminalize abortion with the death penalty.
Bratton, who at the time was the pastor of a Southern Baptist congregation in suburban Houston, advocated for the bill, citing the Bible.
“Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty. They’re guilty already in a court that is far more weighty than what is here in Texas,” he said.
As he was advocating for putting women to death for getting abortions, he was potentially carrying around a secret: he had allegedly molested a teenage relative multiple times over the course of two years, between 2013 and 2015.
On May 15, Bratton purportedly told his wife of his alleged crimes, although why he chose to do so at that time remains unclear. She then called the other pastors at the church for a meeting, wherein Bratton allegedly admitted to his colleagues that he had “sinned in grievous ways.”
Specifically, according to the criminal complaint against him, he allegedly sexually abused a teenage relative over the course of two years. Specifically, their sex acts ranged from kissing all the way up to sexual intercourse. These acts allegedly took place multiple times per week or even multiple times per day.
Because the victim is a minor, authorities are not releasing any information about him or her.
On the same day Bratton allegedly told his colleagues about his crimes, they reported him to the police. Bratton was purportedly prepared to turn himself in that very day, but because it takes time to put together a criminal case, he wasn’t arrested or charged right away.
Meanwhile, his former congregation has been notified. A spokesperson for the Southern Baptist Convention says that Bratton has been excommunicated and is no longer allowed to perform ministry in the church’s name. Authorities have issued an emergency protection order that prevents Bratton from having any contact with his wife or their seven children.
Bratton is currently free, having posted a $50,000 bond. It remains unclear, as of this writing, when his next court appearance will take place.