Rev. Bryan Fulwider former pastor at Florida’s First Congregational Church in Winter Park kills self after accusations of raping then teen girl repeatedly.
A former Florida pastor and Christian radio host has killed himself after a teen girl accused him of ‘repeatedly’ raping her over the course of the last five years.
Rev. Bryan Fulwider‘s suicide follows the 59 year old pastor facing life behind bars after his alleged victim claiming the ‘holy’ man sexually assaulting her more than 100 times starting in 2005 when she was just 14, according to the Orlando Sentinel, citing arrest documents.
At the time of his arrest the reverend faced 30 counts of sexual battery of a person younger than 18 by a person in position of custodial authority among other charges.
Prosecutors called the case ‘extremely strong’ following Fulwider being caught in an almost hour-long recorded call admitting to a ‘sexual relationship’ with the girl, who had been a member of his congregation at the First Congregational Church in Winter Park.
‘[T]here was never anything salacious or bad about it and you were always too damn mature for your own good and I have always loved you,’ Fulwider told his accuser in the call, according to police. ‘It wasn’t like I was off hunting people. It was a connection.’
He had been accused of grooming his victim since age 13 when she attended his church, at Winter Park, where the ‘senior minister’ is alleged to have raped the girl well over 100 times between 2005 and 2010, starting when she was 14, police say.
It wasn’t until 2012 that Fulwider ‘resigning’ his post.
Alleged teen victim: ‘…he knew all the truths I could tell,’
Fulwider, who had been out on bail since Oct. 17 following his arrest earlier this month, was found dead at his Altamonte Springs home Sunday night, October 27. The Medical Examiner’s Office for Seminole County ruled the death a suicide. No other details were given.
Fulwider was widely known for his work as one of the so-called ‘Three Wise Guys’ on Good Religion Radio’s ‘Friends Talking Faith’ show.
‘We are shocked at the death by suicide of Bryan Fulwider. Our sympathies are with his family in their time of anguish,’ the show said on its Facebook page. ‘We stand in solidarity with the victim or victims in this case that will now not have their day in court and receive the justice due to them.’
The show, which was produced independently, went on indefinite hiatus after Fulwider’s arrest.
His accuser told the Sentinel that her ‘story doesn’t stop with his cowardice’ and suggested there may have been other victims, too.
‘Fulwider’s day in court will never come because he knew all the truths I could tell,’ the woman told the paper on the condition of anonymity.
Fulwider’s lawyer, Jacob V. Stuart Jr., stressed that his client had always ‘vehemently’ denied ‘each and every allegation.’
‘Reverend Fulwider’s rights were denied,’ he complained of the way the case was handled with ‘salacious sensationalism.’
Had First Congregational Church been aware of improprieties?
The First Congregational Church is still ‘trying to absorb the impact of all the events’ of its former pastor, its current senior minister, the Rev. Shawn Garvey said in a released statement.
‘For now, all we can do is pray for Bryan’s family and the victim [to] at some point, find a path to healing,’ Garvey wrote in a statement.
Not immediately clear is whether the church had been aware of the alleged sexual assaults and what actions it had taken, if any?
The Winter Park Police Department has asked anyone with information about the case or who may have been victimized by Fulwider to call 407-599-3211.