A former Texas pastor who testified in support of a bill that would have banned abortions and threatened to prosecute women for criminal homicide was arrested Friday and accused of sexually assaulting a teenage relative.
Stephen Bratton, a 43-year-old father of seven, allegedly began assaulting the teenager in 2013 and escalated the assault to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week" before it ended in 2015, Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into Bratton in mid-May after he allegedly confessed to three Southern Baptist clergy members, according to court documents acquired by the Chronicle.
Bratton was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child and has been released from jail after posting a $50,000 bond.
“This activity is wrong according to Biblical and civil law and the church condemns the behavior as abhorrent," his former church, the Grace Family Baptist Church, said in a statement to Click 2 Houston. "Stephen Bratton was also excommunicated by the church the following Sunday, May 19. Therefore, he is no longer a member of the church.”
Bratton previously threw his support behind Texas House Bill 896, the anti-abortion bill that would have made it possible to charge women who had an abortion with homicide and sentence them to death. Doctors who performed abortions would also have been charged with assault or criminal homicide
“Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty,” he said at an April 8 hearing. “They’re guilty already in a court that is far more weighty than what is here in Texas.”