Seminole County Former Minister and Religious Radio Host Admitted ‘Sexual Relationship’ With Minor
Rev. Bryan Fulwider, a former senior minister at First Congregational Church of Christ in Winter Park and host of the well-known radio show “Friends Talking Faith,” has been charged with 30 counts of child sexual battery. On Friday, October 4th, police released the affidavit of a victim accusing Fulwider of sexual assault years ago when she was 14 years old.
Fulwider’s accuser told detectives that when she was 13, he privately asked for her email at the church. She said their relationship escalated in 2005, when they engaged in sex acts in church offices, hotels and cars, over a four year period until 2010. The Winter Park Police Department said at the time of the abuse, the girl attended the church, located on Interlachen Avenue in Winter Park, where Fulwider was her pastor.
According to court records, as part of the police investigation into the young woman’s allegation that Fulwider had raped her over 100 times, a phone call to her was recorded.
“[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 her.
When she asked if she the church would blame her, Fulwider said she would be considered “quote the victim,” the affidavit says. “It would be as if I was a predator and you were victimized by me,” he said.
Fulwilder’s attorney, Jacob V. Stuart Jr. said he and his client “vehemently deny each and every allegation that has been made against him.”
The church statement released on Thursday said:
“Our church community has been deeply pained to learn of the arrest of Bryan Fulwider, who resigned from First Congregational more than seven years ago. At this time, we have no information about this matter, but we pray that any victim associated with this be given privacy in order to move forward and heal.”
In 2017, former Orlando congregational minister Kathy Schmitz appeared on a “Friends Talking Faith” episode about sexual abuse. “We need to hold the incredible importance of listening to those who bring accusations forward, knowing how difficult that is and has been in our culture for a long time,” said Schmitz.
The Winter Park Police Department asks anyone with information about the case or who may have been victimized by Fulwider is asked to call 407-599-3211. Fulwilder is currently being held without bond at the Orange County Jail. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
The role of pastors in the church is to support the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Education and often counseling in times of need are responsibilities with which they are entrusted. Someone who sexually violates young children has no place working in the Church. Any ministry in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential priests and protect their parishioners.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of all religious denominations. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a clergyman, contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.