HOUSTON – The former pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church, who is charged with sexual abuse of a child, appeared in criminal court for the first time Monday.
According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Stephen Bratton, 44, is accused of sexually assaulting a child from 2013, when she was 13, until she turned 18 in 2018.
Bratton approached the judge and his bond conditions were set.
Bratton will not be allowed to visit places where children will be present, like parks, schools, and daycares. His internet will also be restricted and monitored. Bratton will only be able to go online to look for employment while out on bond.
According to a statement released by the church, Bratton was excommunicated from the church after he confessed to two other pastors on May 16 to sexually abusing the child.
The statement said in part:
"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."
Assistant District Attorney, Andrew Figliuzzi said Bratton could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
“This is still an ongoing investigation," said Figliuzzi. “It’s going to take some time but we will make sure to (it) that justice is sought in this case.”
Bratton was with Grace Family Baptist Church for at least a decade, according to one church official.
His next court date has not yet been scheduled.