A prominent former Alabama youth evangelist pleaded guilty on Monday to sexually abusing six boys between the ages of 12 and 16, according to reports.
Acton Bowen, the 39-year-old founder of Acton Bowen Outreach Ministries, pleaded guilty to a total of 28 criminal counts in both Jefferson and Etowah counties after the young victims told investigators they were sexually abused in myriad ways by the Alabama native, AL.com reports.
Bowen, of Gadsden, has been jailed since his April 2018 arrest in Hoover, where he was charged with second-degree sodomy and second-degree sex abuse after a family acquaintance accused the youth pastor of sexually assaulting him.
Bowen could now face up to life in prison after entering a blind plea to the charges he faced in Etowah County. The lesser counts to which Bowen pleaded guilty carry sentences ranging from one to 20 years, AL.com reports.
A sentencing date for Bowen has not yet been set. Prosecutors had no comment when asked what prison term would be appropriate for Bowen, who has written three books for sale online.
Some of Bowen’s victims were in the courtroom for his plea and were “relieved” by Monday’s outcome, Etowah County District Attorney Jody Willoughby told the website.
“There’s been many man-hours put into this,” Willoughby said. “However, this is just the next step toward justice and we are very satisfied in this morning’s phase, and the victims are as well.”
An attorney for Bowen, meanwhile, said he entered the plea because he didn’t want any of the victims to have to testify at trial, the Gadsden Times reports.
“It’s my client’s desire to acknowledge his responsibility,” attorney John Floyd told a judge.
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