BISBEE — After listening to the mother of a teenage sexual abuse victim recount the emotional strain her daughter has suffered, a judge ruled on Friday that the defendant in the assault case will remain in jail without bond.
David Britton Bowser sat motionless in his red and white-striped jail togs before Cochise County Superior Judge James Conlogue as witnesses — including the alleged victim’s mother — testified about the Aug. 12, 2019, incident that led police to arrest Bowser last week.
On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Bowser on 16 counts that include luring a minor for sexual exploitation, giving liquor to a minor, kidnapping, sexual assault, molestation of a child, sexual conduct with a minor, domestic violence-aggravated assault impede breathing, placing victim in reasonable apprehension of physical injury, aggravated DUI with a minor in the vehicle and child abuse.
The hearing Friday — which lasted just over five hours — was scheduled to determine whether Bowser was eligible to be released on bail. But the details that emerged from the hearing paint a picture of Bowser as an erratic alcoholic who is accused of sexually abusing a child he had known since she was born, and whose relative he was dating, according to prosecutors and witness accounts.
Investigators and Bowser’s own father testified that the defendant’s drinking problem is such that Bowser voluntarily installed an intoxilyzer in his truck to help “control his drinking.”
Both police and Judge Conlogue said they had never heard of anyone doing that.
Police said Bowser sexually assaulted the teenager in an apartment where a family member lives when that relative passed out after drinking vodka shots the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2019. Investigators also testified that the victim lived in fear because she said Bowser had threatened that “something bad would happen” if she told anyone about the assault.
Bowser’s 69-year-old father, David A. Bowser, meanwhile, was the only witness who testified on behalf of the defendant. The elder Bowser stated that his son is a “fine young man” and that he was working hard to stay sober. The Bowsers own a few businesses in the area and David A. Bowser said his son had been working in one of the company’s offices until his arrest last week.
The father said he was willing to be a “third-party custodian” for Bowser if his son was released on bail, and that he did not think Bowser posed a danger to the victim or the community.
But the testimony given by police and the victim’s mother of the alleged encounter was compelling and graphic.
Sierra Vista police detectives said Bowser had oral sex with the girl — she was 13 at the time — and placed one of his hands over her mouth to keep her from screaming.
Detective Paul Youman said the incident came to light after the girl convinced Bowser to take her to see her boyfriend after the assault.
The victim told police that Bowser agreed to leave the apartment where the the attack occurred after the girl told Bowser she would let him do whatever he wanted to her if he would take her to see the boyfriend for a few minutes.
“It was the only thing she could think of saying,” Youman said when questioned by assistant prosecutor Terisha Driggs.
Youman said Bowser then had the victim blow into the intoxilyzer in his truck so that the engine would start, because he was above the legal limit for blood-alcohol content.
The victim told police that Bowser drove along State Highway 92. The teen said Bowser kept talking about taking her to his residence near Carr Canyon and that he would do sexual things with her there, Youman testified. As they approached a Speedway gas station on Highway 92, the victim told Bowser that she could see her boyfriend at the gas station, Youman said.
At that point, Bowser agreed to stop and told the girl she had a few minutes to go inside and see her boyfriend.
Instead, the youngster, who police said had on no shoes, ran inside and asked for help.
When Sierra Vista police arrived at the Speedway, the victim was sitting in a car with strangers who were trying to help keep her calm, said Youman and Sierra Vista Police Cpl. Justin Dannels. Bowser, meanwhile, was in his truck, his pants and belt undone, his speech slurred. His blood-alcohol content was 0.245, more than three times the legal limit, investigators said.
Bowser was arrested for DUI that night, but was released from jail after he posted bond. After Sierra Vista police interviewed the victim, they launched their investigation, but quickly learned that no one in the teen’s family knew what had happened.
Bowser denied assaulting the girl. Youman said Bowser told him that his DNA would not be found on her body and “that there was no reason why it would be,” Youman testified.
When DNA test results were returned by the Department of Public Safety in mid-February, Bowser was charged.
When the girl’s mother testified, she described how her daughter’s emotional state has steadily crumbled. She said the teen, who is now 14, has cut herself and threatened to jump off a balcony. The child has skipped classes several times and she’s been bullied at school.
“She has a lot of anger and fear,” the mother said. “She is in fear daily that he will get out of jail.”
The mother of the teen, who is not being named by the Herald/Review to protect the identify of the victim, said the girl is being home-schooled. Though the girl was identified, the Herald/Review does not publicly name sexual assault victims.
In her closing arguments, prosecutor Driggs told Conlogue that Bowser is a danger to society.
“There is no reason why Mr. Bowser’s DNA should be on a 13-year-old girl,” Driggs said. “He played a role in her life. He is an alcoholic that even had the victim blow into his device (so that his truck would start).
“The victim has had a downward spiral.”
Bowser’s attorney, Wallace Hoggatt, told Conlogue that if his client was released on bail, Bowser would not be a danger to the victim or any other minor.
“The girl and her mother would be protected,” Hoggatt said.
The judge, who repeatedly called Bowser’s behavior “shocking,” disagreed. While he acknowledged that Bowser’s father would likely do his best to act as a third-party custodian, Conlogue said he believes Bowser poses a “danger to children.”
“This is an extremely serious offense,” Conlogue said. “There is evidence that will corroborate the testimony of the child.”
“While his family believes he is a fine young man, that may be true when he’s sober; but when he is intoxicated, Mr. Bowser’s behavior is shocking,” Conlogue added. “The damage to the victim is extreme.”
Bowser’s trial has been set for July 7.