HOUSTON – The former pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church posted bond after he was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
Stephen Bratton, 44, is accused of sexually assaulting a child from 2013, when she was 13 years old, until she turned 18 in 2018, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The victim said they would have sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week, according to a news release from the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
Bratton stepped down from the ministry because of his actions, the Sheriff's Office said. Bratton has been with the church for the past decade, and church members say the charges come as a shock.
Bratton is free on a $50,000 bond.
The Grace Family Baptist Church released the following statement:
"We are aware of the situation regarding Stephen Bratton and the charges that have been filed against him and of his arrest on June 14.
"Stephen Bratton confessed to Erin Frye and Aaron Wright, both pastors at the church, of sexually abusing a minor in an ongoing way for a number of years on May 16. This is the first time this had been brought to the attention of the pastors. This activity is wrong according to Biblical and civil law and the church condemns the behavior as abhorrent.
"The elders immediately filed a police report with Harris County Sheriff’s Office the same day, May 16. As the weeks followed, the pastors and others close to the case continued to make contact with the detective because they desired the case to be brought forward so that justice would be served.
"Once the case began, we continued to cooperate fully throughout the investigation. Stephen is no longer in a position of leadership at the church and is no longer receiving a salary. Stephen Bratton was also excommunicated by the church the following Sunday, May 19. Therefore, he is no longer a member of the church.
"Currently, we are working to meet the needs of the family and the victim. We have deep grief for the victim and have sought to respect the privacy and identity of the victim throughout this process."