A former pastor of a Souther Baptist Church in Texas has been charged with molesting a teenage relative over the course of two years, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Stephen Bratton, who resigned from Grace Family Baptist Church last month, reportedly committed the abuse multiple times a day for two years. Bratton, who is 43-years-old, is accusing of “inappropriate touching” that escalated to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week” from 2013 to 2015, according to Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland.
Bratton was a vocal pro-life activist who made national headlines after he threw his support behind a bill that would have criminalized abortions as homicide, which theoretically could result in the death penalty.
The investigation into Bratton reportedly began on May 16, one day after he confessed the abuse to his wife, who then called his co-pastors to inform them about his confession. Bratton himself later confessed to his co-pastors, saying that he had “sinned in grievous ways.” It was his co-pastors who ultimately contacted authorities on the matter.
“This person’s life is in such a contradiction to the faith that we see no evidence that they are a Christian,” co-pastor Aaron Wright said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
In the wake of the charges, Grace Family Baptist Church released the following statement:
This activity is wrong according to Biblical and civil law and the church condemns the behavior as abhorrent. Stephen Bratton was also excommunicated by the church the following Sunday, May 19. Therefore, he is no longer a member of the church.
The bill Bratton supported was put forth by the Texas state Legislature in April, and sought to charge women with murder if they got an abortion. As The Root reported, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R), who is a “five-times-married Republican out of Arlington.” The bill would have made abortion a crime without exception, making both women who had abortions and the doctors who performed them vulnerable to murder charges, which is punishable by death in Texas.
In his support for the bill, Bratton cited the bible.
“Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty,” he said at the time. “They’re guilty already in a court that is far more weighty than what is here in Texas.”
Because his victim is a minor, authorities are not releasing any information as to the identity or age of him or her. Bratton is currently free on $50,000 bond.
Featured image via Harris County Sheriff’s Office