Well, of course, being a judge you’d have to have made all the right moves.John B. Bowman did just that with a degree in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, with honors, and a Juris Doctor at St.Thomas University in Miami. So Bowman got to be a lawyer and moved up to be a judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court and has served at the Broward County Courthouse since 2002.
But, like Langston Hughes’ famous poem “Mother to Son,” life “ain’t been no crystal stair” all the way for Judge John B. Bowman. In a January 2011 issue of the New Times, reporter Stefan Kamph wrote a story about sexual abuse allegations against the judge filed by a former foster son. Charles Harper told the New Times that “When I was 11, he [Judge Bowman] took me into his home. It was just me and him in the house.”
This kid was with the judge for five years, until he was 16 years old, during which time the relationship was, at best, complicated. Charles Harper, after all, was a troubled child who grew into a troubling teenager. Six months after his original New Times story, reporter Stefan Kamph published a follow up piece in June of 2011 reporting that the City of Plantation Police Department, where Charles Harper had filed his allegations, “has been keeping an investigation open since late January.”
Curiously, from January of 2011to at least this past Friday, according to an investigator friend of mine, this case has gone nowhere. The investigator spoke with City of Plantation Police Department Attorney, Melissa Presser on Friday who said the “case is inactive.” Since 2011, this case has virtually disappeared as a trick that bests those of Houdini, the former great magician.
In that same June 2011 article, Kamph wrote, “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 lawyers who need to deal with him every day.” This is past mid-2018 and beyond unpleasant questions about Judge Bowman’s alleged predatory behavior that need to be answered, is the thought of him adjudicating similar cases from the bench.
This brings me to a legal situation that I’m familiar with because the attorney involved is well known in Broward County’s black neighborhoods. Judge John B. Bowman has been the judge that presides over this lawyer’s predatory case involving a male teacher and a female minor. Over the course of this lengthy predatory “relationship,” the female minor had a pregnancy and an abortion. Charges against the teacher were filed by the Plantation Police Department, and, incidentally, by the same police officer – who is now retired – that handled the allegations against Judge Bowman.
The case involves the School Board of Broward County (before Robert W. Runcie became Superintendent) and the predator has been convicted and is doing 30 years in prison. However, it is the civil case that puzzles a couple of other lawyers I’ve talked with. They said, confidentially, that Judge Bowman should not be on cases that involve predatory behaviors unless and until he clears his name from allegations of sexual abuse.
But when I read Kamph’s three New Times articles, several questions immediately came to mind about the media. Bob Norman’s February 2011 New Times piece titled “Judge Bowman’s Troublesome Foster Son Story Gets Media Blackout” hit the mark. Norman wrote, “It’s the biggest story at the Broward County Courthouse right now, but if you rely only on the SunSentinel or Miami Herald you haven’t heard a word about it.”
Kamph’s final New Times reporting on the investigation of Judge John B. Bowman on August 30, 2012 indicated that cases “involving a sitting judge are reassigned by the governor’s office to a different state attorney’s office.” Governor Scott’s Executive Order Number 12-207 states that State Attorney Michael J. Satz advised the Governor “that allegations were made against Judge John Bowman for lewd and lascivious molestation. . .”
Governor Scott appointed Peter Antonacci, State Attorney for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in West Palm Beach to investigate and prosecute if needed. However, as you now know, nothing happened. The brakes were applied and all engines stopped! Last year, Judge Bowman got a 2017 National Adoption Day proclamation from Governor Rick Scott.
There’s a lot more depth to these issues, but you just can’t hit the bulls eye any clearer than Bob Norman’s preach: “When a sitting judge takes a troubled child from his courtroom into his home and tries to adopt him, it’s a story. When things go wrong and the judge turns the kid back over to the state, it’s a story. When the kid is later arrested outside the judge’s home for stalking, it’s a story. And when the kid alleges to police that the judge abused him, it’s a story. Why aren’t they telling any of it?”
Oh, by the way, Judge Bowman’s late father, Barkley “Barc” Bowman was a reporter and editor for the Fort Lauderdale News and the Sun Sentinel newspapers.