A man who worked as a political director for Texas Right to Life, the premier anti-abortion group in the state, has been arrested for the online solicitation of a minor.
Lucas “Luke” Bowen, 33, was charged with the second-degree felony on August 3. A minor, under that statute, refers to anyone who’s younger than 17 or who the arrested person believes to be younger than 17.
Bowen allegedly “knowingly” solicited a minor online “with the intent” of engaging “in sexual contact or sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse,” according to a complaint filed by Montgomery County prosecutors obtained by The Courier of Montgomery County.
The news of Bowen’s charge was previously reported by Jessica Valenti, an independent feminist journalist.
Texas Right to Life is one of the most powerful anti-abortion groups in a state known for setting the anti-abortion agenda for the rest of the nation. As part of his work for the organization, Bowen had appeared on stage representing Texas Right to Life at a 2020 Texas Youth Summit panel, spoke to Politico in 2018, and served as its campaign treasurer, according to a Texas campaign finance report filed last month.
Now, it appears that Bowen’s name has been removed from some pages on Texas Right to Life’s website and other pages mentioning him have been removed entirely (Valenti also reported on this). In one press release from February 2020, a quote attributed to Bowen as of September last year now appears without his name but still has the quote, a cached version of the page obtained from the Internet Archive showed. The quote originally read:
Texas Right to Life has never endorsed Kay Granger, including for this cycle,” Luke Bowen, Political Director of Texas Right to Life, said. “Republican Chris Putnam is the only Pro-Life candidate in the race. We proudly endorsed Putnam after our interview in December, and are excited for the people of Congressional District 12 to finally have Pro-Life representation in Washington.
Another press release, claiming a Texas Right to Life employee named Kim Schwartz “saved” a woman from getting an abortion, mentioned that Bowen stayed behind with Schwartz to ensure she “wasn’t left alone in the office.” That release is now erased from the website.
Texas Right to Life has run regular boot camps for young people looking to become anti-abortion activists. A third press release from 2018, concerning “medical ethics training” for anti-abortion college students, said that Bowen spoke to the students and encouraged to get them involved with political campaigns for anti-abortion candidates, but that release has also been deleted.
Do you know anything about sexual misconduct involving anti-abortion or pro-abortion rights groups? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM her on Twitter at @carter_sherman for Signal.
Bowen’s name remains on one 2018 Texas Right to Life press release still live on the website.
Bowen’s employment with Texas Right to Life was terminated on Aug. 3, Schwartz, a spokesperson for the group, told VICE News over email. Schwartz did not immediately respond to questions about whether Bowen’s arrest was related to his termination or the changes to Texas Right to Life’s website.
“He was not involved with minors in our youth programs,” Schwartz said.
Bowen was charged after a sting operation run by Montgomery County Internet Crime Against Children, The Courier of Montgomery County reported.
An attorney listed for Bowen didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment, but told The Courier that “this investigation revolves around a fictitious alleged minor created by law enforcement and posted on the Internet. There is not a real victim in the case.”
Last year, Texas Right to Life set up a website urging people to become anonymous “pro-life whistleblowers” and send tips about people they suspected of violating a law that would let one another sue over abortions past roughly six weeks of pregnancy.
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