COLUMBIA, SC – In a case that has sparked controversy and outrage, a young man accused of multiple sexual assaults has been released from prison after serving just 483 days. Despite facing allegations of three separate rapes and violating his bond conditions over 50 times, 21-year-old Bowen Turner was granted release by the South Carolina Department of Corrections.
Turner, the son of a local prosecutor’s investigator, was initially charged with criminal sexual conduct, a crime that could have landed him in prison for up to 30 years. However, he pleaded guilty to lesser charges of first-degree assault and battery, managing to avoid being registered as a sex offender. His sentencing facilitated his release under the Youthful Offender Act in April 2022, a provision applicable to offenders under 25 with no prior record.
The accusations against Turner date back to 2018 and 2019, when three women came forward alleging rape. The case involving his first alleged victim was dismissed due to their minor status at the time. His second accuser, Dallas Stoller, tragically took her own life at the age of 20 after being subjected to bullying following her accusations. Turner was released from prison on the same day as Stoller’s father’s birthday and the day after the second anniversary of her death.
While out on bond, Turner allegedly sexually assaulted 16-year-old Chloe Bess at a house party in June 2019. Despite these serious charges, he was allowed house arrest with a 7 p.m. curfew, which he repeatedly violated, according to court documents. From November 2021 to February 2022, Turner played golf 19 times, visited friends, went shopping, and even left the state.
Stoller’s case was dropped after her death, and Bess’s case was reduced to assault. Turner was sentenced to probation in April 2022 as part of a plea deal. However, his legal troubles didn’t end there. In July 2022, just a month after his sentencing, Turner was arrested again on minor charges. He spent 16 months in Turbeville Correctional Institution before his release.
High Court Stuns Nation: The Truth Behind Releasing a Convicted Predator!
The High Court of Australia has recently clarified the reasons behind its ruling that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful. This verdict has significant implications for over 140 individuals, many with criminal records, who were previously held in detention centers. This ruling, overturning a two-decade-old precedent, has led the federal government to allocate $255 million (US$170 million) to monitor these released detainees.
Central to this groundbreaking decision was the case of a stateless Rohingya Muslim man from Myanmar, known under the pseudonym NZYQ. Convicted of raping a 10-year-old boy, he was sentenced to five years in prison in Australia, with a non-parole period of three years and four months. After serving his sentence, he was placed in an immigration detention center under the Migration Act. Although he was recognized as a refugee with a “well-founded fear of persecution in Myanmar,” his application for a protection visa was denied due to his status as a convicted child sex offender, deemed a danger to the Australian community.
In April 2023, NZYQ initiated legal proceedings against the immigration minister and the Commonwealth, arguing that his continued detention was not authorized under the Migration Act and violated the Constitution. The High Court, in a unanimous decision led by Chief Justice Stephen Gageler, ruled that indefinite detention was beyond the legislative power of the Commonwealth Parliament. The justices emphasized that if there is no foreseeable prospect of deportation, a person must be released from detention.
The court clarified that releasing someone from unlawful detention does not equate to granting them the right to remain in Australia. They stated that issuing a writ of habeas corpus does not prevent future re-detention if circumstances change, allowing for the individual’s removal from Australia or if they are deemed to present an unacceptable risk of reoffending.
This judgment also noted the support of the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Law Centre, and the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law for the position of the convicted child sex offender. These organizations were granted leave to appear as amicus curiae, offering expert insight into the case.
The decision effectively overturned the 2004 Al-Kateb v Godwin case, which had established that indefinite detention was lawful under the Migration Act and did not breach the Constitution’s separation of powers, provided it was for a justified and non-punitive purpose. The High Court’s recent judgment challenges this view, suggesting that the approach in the Al-Kateb case was incomplete and inaccurate.
Following the ruling, the Australian government, led by the Labor party, has been swift in proposing legislation for a preventive detention regime to potentially re-detain high-risk individuals. Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has expressed the government’s opposition to the plaintiff’s case and emphasized the need for a robust legal framework to ensure community safety. The government also plans to impose stricter restrictions on released detainees, including mandatory electronic monitoring and prohibitions on contacting victims’ families or approaching childcare centers.
The opposition has criticized the government for its lack of preparedness and urges legislation to re-detain these individuals. However, the High Court’s decision mandates that any re-detention must be supported by evidence and subject to judicial oversight, ensuring that the rights of individuals are balanced with public safety concerns.