Sex-Abuse Charges Sinks Del. GOP Pro-Family Candidate
A Republican politician who was running for the Delaware State Senate has been charged with 113 counts of sexually abusing a boy more than two decades ago. He has pleaded not guilty, Delaware’s Cape Gazette reports.
According to reports, Eric Bodenweiser, 53, has been charged with raping a boy 39 times during a three-year period. The politician faces 74 charges of second-degree unlawful sexual contact and 39 charges of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse.
Delaware’s News Journal reports that Bodenweiser was a "rising star in conservative politics" and was a Republican candidate for the State Senate until he was indicted by a grand jury Monday. He is being accused of raping a boy between October 1987 and August 1990 when the alleged victim was between the ages of 10 and 13.
The alleged victim is now 35 years old and lives in Florida, the Gazette reported. In an email to the publication, he wrote that he could not discuss the case but said it was "not politically motivated."
The publication claims the alleged victim has a criminal record as he was arrested in Florida in 2010 and charged with domestic battery by strangulation and tampering with a state witness. According to documents, he is on probation after he pleaded guilty. Victims of childhood sexual abuse often themselves turn to domestic violence as adults.
After Bodenweiser turned himself into Delaware State Police on Monday, he posted his $250,000 bail. But Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley ordered the politician be monitored by a GPS and watched by officials.
Bodenweiser, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, is a prominent member of the Delaware Family Council, a conservative organization that opposes gay rights and is connected to Focus on the Family. He is also a local businessman and helped operate his family’s convenience store chain until it was sold in 2001.
Bodenweiser defeated incumbent Sen. Joe Booth (R-Georgetown) in the September primary to become the GOP nominee for the State Senate race. Christine O’Donnell, the former Tea Party candidate for U.S. Senate and an ultra-conservative, backed Bodenweiser. In a video, O’Donnell called the politician a "great man that deserves our support and that we need to send to Dover. Eric has the kind of character that will stand up against corruption, that will do what is right in the face of opposition, in the face of pressure."
Bodenweiser calls himself a "fiscal and social conservative Christian" in a video and told voters if he was elected he would cut taxes and regulations.
Although ballots with Bodenweiser’s name have already been printed, election officials said they would place stickers over his name on Election Day, according to News Journal. Any votes cast towards him will not be counted.
An assistant superintendent for the Indian River School District in Delaware told the Gazette that Bodenweiser was a mentor for children in middle and elementary schools.
"We haven’t had any concerns raised by anyone," Gary Brittingham told the newspaper. "We’ve taken the proper steps." He said that he would not talk about the children Bodenweiser mentored but information related to the politician has been given to the authorities.
Ruth Briggs King, a Republican state representative for Delaware, said she was surprised by Bodenweiser’s charges.
"It’s one of those very unfortunate situations," she told the News Journal. She compared the incident to when Earl Bradley, a former pediatrician from Delaware who was convicted of abusing a number of children patients and has been sentenced to life in prison.
"These are a lot of charges as well. It’s mind-boggling," she said. "We’ll trust in the judicial process. It’s a long process, and we’ll see."