Rev. Bryan Fulwider, a Florida pastor who more recently worked as a radio host, was arrested and charged with 30 counts of “sexual battery of a person younger than 18 by a person in position of custodial authority.”
This morning, police said Fulwider admitted to a “sexual relationship” — it’s rape — with the victim, who was only 14 when the assaults began. They know this because of a secretly recorded phone call between him and the victim.
The assaults allegedly took place between 2005 and 2010, when Fulwider was a pastor at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. The 59-year-old Fulwider has since been a co-host of a show called “Friends Talking Faith.” If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Detectives say they’ve already gathered enough evidence make their case, though until portions of the affidavit were released this morning, they hadn’t offered any further details.
“Detectives began an immediate investigation into the incidents and during the course of their investigation, were able to establish probable cause that [Fulwider] … had committed the offenses,” the statement [from the Winter Park Police Department] said. No other details about the allegations were released.
Winter Park police Division Chief Pam Marcum declined to release the affidavit the agency submitted to a judge in support of Fulwider’s arrest, which she said had been deemed confidential by the court “as the investigation is on-going and other victims may remain [at] large.”
That’s another disturbing thought: The victim may not be alone. Still, the pastor has his fair share of defenders, including his attorneys, who say he “vehemently denies every allegation” and blame “this era of ‘gotcha’ politics and news.” As if the victim was just waiting for years, until a former pastor hosted a local radio show, before going public with a lie…
No word yet on how he and his attorney will explain the phone call.
Another local pastor who runs the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and works with Fulwider said he hoped for due process and that “it’s a sad time for both of them right now,” referring to Fulwider and the victim. This isn’t a time to “both sides” this issue. No doubt it’s sad for the person who’s telling the truth, but if the allegations pan out as the police suggest they will, someone’s faking it.
Religious reverence shouldn’t substitute for a thorough investigation.