Two months ago, when he was still a Southern Baptist pastor, Stephen Bratton testified in favor of a Texas bill that could have allowed women who get abortions to be charged with homicide, a crime punishable by death in the Lone Star State.
On Friday, the 43-year-old was charged with continuous sex abuse of a child. He stands accused of molesting a teenage relative for two years, including “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week,” a Harris County deputy said this weekend, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Bratton posted a $50,000 bond on Saturday, the Chronicle reported. The Associated Press could not locate a phone number for Bratton, nor find his attorney, on Sunday.
The charges against Bratton also come just a week after Southern Baptist leaders gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, to discuss sex abuse reform after recent reports found hundreds of clergy and staff were accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. The pastors voted to form a committee to examine allegations that churches failed to adequately deal with claims of sex abuse, and to make it clear that the Southern Baptist Convention can expel churches for mishandling such claims.
Bratton confessed to his wife and clergy members about the abuse last month, and resigned from his job at a Houston-area church. He has since been excommunicated, one of Bratton’s co-pastors, Aaron Wright, told the Chronicle.
“This person’s life is in such a contradiction to the faith that we see no evidence that they are a Christian,” Wright said.
The Texas state Legislature ultimately did not vote on the anti-abortion measure Bratton testified in favor of, but this year marked the first time that Texas had heard public testimony on a bill that could leave women criminally liable for getting abortions, the Washington Post reported. More than 400 “witnesses” reportedly registered their approval for the bill.
"Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty," Bratton testified during the hearing, according to the Associated Press. "They're guilty already in a court that is far more weighty than what is here in Texas."
Cover: This undated photo provided by the Harris County Sheriff's Office shows former Grace Family Baptist Church pastor Stephen Bratton, 43. The former Southern Baptist pastor who supported legislation in Texas that would have criminalized abortions has been arrested on charges of child sex abuse, accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage relative over the course of two years. (Harris County Sheriff's Office via AP)