In late January, we reported allegations of past sexual abuse by Broward County Circuit Judge John Bowman. The accusations came from Charles Harper, a troubled 18-year-old whom the judge had adopted as a young child after the boy passed through his courtroom. Last we heard, Harper gave a statement to Plantation police about the alleged abuse in January, then pleaded guilty to stalking Bowman outside his home late last year.
The allegations haven't been confirmed as anything more than the stories of an angry ex-foster-child (whom Bowman deemed a "sociopath,") but they haven't been disproved either. Instead, the Plantation Police Department has been keeping an investigation open since late January.
Nearly every Monday since the initial report, New Times has contacted
the Police Department to inquire about any updates on this story. Every time, the news is the same: that the investigation is still "open," that no supplements or updates have been added to the police report, and that the investigation is being handled by Plantation Police Detective Cindy Hager (who has not responded to requests for comment).
We've heard unsubstantiated rumors that a lie detector test was administered to Harper a few months back but have been unable to confirm this information. Meanwhile, Harper's lawyer advised him after the plea deal not to talk to the media. Which is sensible: Now, this is in the hands of law enforcement.
Confidentiality and discretion are certainly essential during an investigation based on past events, especially when the accusations are of such a serious nature. But something needs to see the light of day. The case has receded into the background, but the unpleasant questions it raised remain unanswered.
Clearing up this case should be a high priority for the Police Department involved and the entire Broward County court system. Bowman's name retains an unpleasant tinge of speculation among many of the lawyers who need to deal with him every day.
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Ideally, the judge's name would be cleared and Plantation police would get credit for putting the matter to rest. Until then, we'll keep calling for updates.