If you’ve not heard of Bowen Turner, don’t worry — that’s by design.
See, Turner is a 19-year-old South Carolina man who since 2018 has been charged with two sexual assaults. In one case, the alleged victim is now dead. In the another, the alleged victim watched as he violated the terms of his house arrest at least 20 times — and on Friday learned that he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that won’t even have him register as a sex offender. There was a third allegation, but law enforcement never brought charges. To this day, Turner is free.
And all of this proves one thing: The judicial system is working just fine.
I don’t want to bore you with details, but in 1789 or thereabout, a bunch of white men decided “to establish the judicial courts of the United States,” which was signed into law by the president, the founding father George Washington. The system created by white men, for white men was basically enacted to issue justice fairly and properly to white men, because no one else mattered but white men. Slaves (Black people) couldn’t even testify against white men, and even if they were hit by a white person, they (slaves, Black people), couldn’t hit them back. White women were leaps and bounds above slaves, but they were still less than white men. They didn’t have the right to own property, they couldn’t keep their own money, and they couldn’t vote. But they were still considered a person — granted a second-class citizen, but a citizen nonetheless.
Basically, “White Cis-Male Lives Matter,” and little has changed since then.
Which brings us back to Turner.
In 2018, Turner, then 16, was at a party with Dallas Stoller. Stoller was a popular teen who was the president of her senior class. Stoller came home from the party, intoxicated and covered in bruises, and reportedly told her father that Turner had sexually assaulted her.
“It was very upsetting obviously, and very disheartening,” Turner’s father, Karl Stoller, told South Carolina outlet WCSC. “And very, I like to use the word, ‘tragic,’ once we found out who the alleged individual was.”
Turner was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Bamberg County in January of 2019, according to public records cited by WCSC. He was required to wear a GPS monitor and was released on bond. After only a few months, the judge allowed him to remove the monitor.
Six months after his first arrest, Turner, who was still out on bond, was arrested again and charged for a second time with first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The victim, who was 16 at the time of the assault, claimed that the incident happened at a party in Orangeburg County in June 2019. While minors are not usually named in sexual assault cases, Chloe Bess has since come forward to say that she was the victim of the alleged 2019 assault.
Chloe Bess claims that she walked outside of the pond house, where the party was happening, to call a friend when Turner approached her. Bess told authorities that Turner pulled her behind a truck, pulled her to the ground, yanked her shirt down and then pulled off her pants and underwear and “forced himself sexually” on her.
“I just remember being so petrified, like, I was frozen,” Bess said. “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.”
Turner was initially denied bond. But that was granted after only a few months, and he was given another GPS monitor and put on house arrest. He was only to leave the house to see his attorney, for mental health appointments or for a medical emergency. Court documents found that he violated this order as much has wanted — “including 19 trips to golf courses, as well as outings to restaurants, sporting goods stores and even a car dealership,” WCSC reported.
He even left the city to visit Columbia and Graniteville. He also took a trip to Brunswick, Georgia, because why not? It’s not like anyone was going to do anything about it.
“[He has] multiple bond violations,” Darren Bess, Chloe’s father, says. “He was out on bond when this happened to Chloe. It’s like he keeps getting pass after pass after pass.”
Maybe that’s because Turner’s attorney is powerful state Sen. Brad Hutto, who promptly took to the courtroom to slut-shame Bess.
From the Times and Democrat:
Hutto argued that after the incident, the victim allegedly said, “I felt ashamed.”
“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,” Hutto said.
Hutto said Turner and the victim were mutually engaging in sexual behaviors with each other at the party.
“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,” Hutto said.
And get this: The first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge against Turner in the alleged Stoller incident has been dismissed because Stoller died in November 2021 and therefore can’t testify.
“Where are the victims’ rights?” Brette Tabatabai, Stoller’s sister, asked. “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.”
The Stoller family didn’t say how Dallas died, but they told WCSC that the gossip and stress from the alleged incident weighed heavily on the young woman even after high school.
On Friday, Turner pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of assault and battery, allowing him to avoid having to register as a sex offender. “Circuit Judge Markley Dennis sentenced him under the Youthful Offender Act not to exceed six years, suspended to five years of probation. The probation term may not be shortened,” The Times and Democrat reports.
“It’s like when you go into a convenience store and you rob it at gunpoint, but then you get charged with stealing a candy bar,” Bess said.
It’s almost as if America doesn’t want white men to go to jail. I mean surely America knows that white men commit crimes, but they are less likely to serve prison time for their offenses. I know. It sounds like I’m basing my entire position on conjecture and hyperbole, so let’s look at stats. According to a study done by The Color of Justice, “Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly 5 times the rate of white Americans.” And, more importantly, “In 12 states, more than half the prison population is Black: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.”
And if you want to argue that Turner was a teen when he allegedly committed sexual assault, then let’s take a look at those numbers, too.
“Black youth are more than four times as likely to be detained or committed in juvenile facilities as their white peers, according to nationwide data collected in October 2019 and recently released. In 2015, Black youth’s incarceration rate was 5.0 times as high as their white peers,” according to a study done by the Sentencing Project.
“Forty-one percent of youths in placement are Black, even though Black Americans comprise only 15% of all youth across the United States. Black youth are more likely to be in custody than white youth in every state but one: Hawaii.”
The entire time that I’ve been working on this piece, I kept trying to figure out when Bowen Turner attended Stanford and when he joined the Stanford swim team. And then it dawned on me that I’ve been thinking about Brock Turner, another white man accused of sexual assault who served some three months in jail even after two students found him on top of an unconscious woman and held him there until police arrived. The judge believed that a longer sentence would’ve had a “severe impact” on Turner. Brock Turner and Bowen Turner are not related. I just have a faulty recollection of white men who evade prison for horrific crimes.
“I do believe in my heart that there’s a good possibility that things would be different if things were done like they were supposed to be — if justice was served like it was supposed to be,” Tabatabai said.
I don’t know how to tell Tabatabai that justice has been served. The justice system has done exactly what it was designed to do.
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