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South Carolina teen pleads to lesser charge in sexual assault case, sparking fury from victim’s family

South Carolina teen pleads to lesser charge in sexual assault case, sparking fury from victim’s family

A South Carolina teen accused of sexually assaulting a pastor’s daughter has avoided a possible prison sentence by pleading guilty to a lesser charge — leaving the victim’s family outraged at what they describe as a sweetheart deal.

Bowen Gray Turner, 19, had been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for dragging Chloe Bess behind a truck at a party in 2019, pulling off her clothes and sexually attacking her, the Times and Democrat reported.

But Friday, Turner — whose father is an investigator for a state solicitor — pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and battery in Orangeburg County on June 2, 2019.

Judge Markley Dennis sentenced him under the Youthful Offender Act to a jail term that was suspended to five years’ probation — and he can also avoid registering as a sex offender if he stays out of trouble.

Bess’ father, the Rev. Darren Bess, railed against the sentence in court.

“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,” Rev. Bess said in court.

Bowen Turner pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and battery.
Bamberg County Detention Center
Chloe Bess and family.




Bowen Turner had been charged with dragging Chloe Bess behind a truck at a party in 2019, pulling off her clothes and sexually attacking her.
WCSC-TV

“We have experienced a catastrophic failure of this system and it impacts my family daily.”

At the time of the attack on Bess, Turner was out on bond on charges connected to a separate sex attack on another woman named Dallas Stoller, 18, who accused him of assaulting her on Oct. 7, 2018.

But that charge was dropped when she died suddenly in November 2021, according to the news outlet.

Dallas Hayer Stoller.
At the time of the attack on Chloe Bess, Bowen Turner was out on bond for allegedly assaulting Dallas Stoller on Oct. 7, 2018.
Facebook/Dallas Stoller

The state Law Enforcement Division also investigated a rape allegation by a third woman but the agency didn’t bring any charges.

Prosecutor Dennis Miller said the incident involving Bess occurred at about 3 a.m. at a house where she, Turner and other teens were at a party.

Bess told investigators that when she walked outside to call a friend, Turner pushed her behind a truck, pulled her pants and underwear off and “forced himself sexually” on her.

Bowen Turner in court.
Bowen Turner was sentenced to five years’ probation.
WCSC-TV

In the dismissed case, the late Stoller’s father, Karl Stoller, told the court Friday that she had 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” after she went to a hospital, he said.

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 and insults in the community,” Karl said.

Chloe Bess and family.
“Justice will not be served here today,” Rev. Darren Bess said about Bowen Turner’s sentencing.
WCSC-TV

Turner’s father, Walt Turner, is an investigator for South Carolina First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, so the case was given to Second Circuit Solicitor Bill Weeks, FitsNews reported.

“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,” Karl said.

“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,” he said.

Family of Dallas Stoller.
“Today’s events are nothing more than a public show with the intent for the defendant to not spend one moment in jail,” Karl Stoller reacted.
WCSC-TV

“This is indeed a very sad day for victims in our state,” Karl added.

Adding to the families’ anguish, it also was reported that Turner had committed more than 50 alleged violations of his house arrest conditions based on a tracking device he was wearing.

Bess said his daughter and other accusers “not only feel victimized by the defendant but also by the very system of justice that was meant to protect our daughter and others.”

Turner visited golf courses 19 times, ate at restaurants, shopped at sporting goods stores and even went out of state, WCSC reported, citing court documents.

Bess and Soller families.
Rev. Darren Bess said his daughter and other accusers “not only feel victimized by the defendant but also by the very system of justice that was meant to protect [them].”
WCSC-TV

Sarah Ford, of the Victim Assistance Network, said she plans to appeal Turner’s lenient sentence and filed motions asking the court to approve taking him into custody.

“There [has] been issue after issue with this case,” Ford told the news outlet. “This defendant has ignored court order after court order, and these victims have been told to sit and endure.”

Turner’s defense lawyer, Brad Hutto, and prosecutors declined to comment when approached by WCSC outside the courtroom.

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