Houston pastor who backed bill criminalizing abortion arrested for alleged child sex abuse

A 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.

Stephen Bratton is accused of subjecting the relative to inappropriate touching that escalated to "sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week" from 2013 to 2015, according to Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Bratton appeared in front of a judge on Monday. The judge ordered him not to have contact with the alleged victim. The judge said he is not allowed to go near facilities where there is anyone under the age of 17, including playgrounds, churches and schools. We are also told that an app will be installed on his computer to monitor his usage, because he is not allowed to do anything but search for jobs.

“Right now it’s one count of continuous sexual abuse, which means that there are multiple alleged counts within that one count, if that makes sense,” Assistant District Attorney Andrew Figliuzzi says. “So we are alleging multiple instances of abuse but in one count.“

Court records show he is a former pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church. Church leaders say he was excommunicated.

Bratton, who is a father of seven, was outspoken in support of a Texas bill that would have abolished abortions and charged women with homicide if they underwent the procedure. That level of offense can be punishable by the death penalty under Texas law.

Bratton publicly testified in support of the bill in April. The measure never got a vote.

"Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty," Bratton said at the hearing. "They're guilty already in a court that is far more weighty than what is here in Texas."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.