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Florida Pastor Accused of Raping Girls Dies of ‘Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound’

By Julie Roys
Pastor David Rowan Gunshot

A Florida pastor standing trial in Tennessee for the rape of two teenage girls has died of an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” police say.

Police in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, say officers found Pastor David Rowan, 66, deceased in his car on the second floor of the Rutherford County Justice Center Parking Garage Thursday morning.

At the time of the incident, Rowan was awaiting a jury’s verdict in his trial for the alleged rape of two sisters, aged 14 and 15.

The charges against Rowan, who pastors Faith Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, stem from 2014 when Rowan was in Murfreesboro speaking at a local church.

“While he was here in Murfreesboro he ran across these two young ladies and asked to take them out for a hamburger and a milk shake,” Detective Tommy Roberts said in 2018. “He ended up taking them to a local hotel here in the city of Murfreesboro where evidence showed that he molested the teenage girls.”

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Rowan was charged in 2018 with rape, unlawful sexual contact, and sexual battery by an authority figure. On November 29, 2021, his trial on these charges began.

In the meantime, Rowan had continued to pastor his church in Florida. A video posted to the church’s YouTube channel shows Rowan preaching at Faith Baptist the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Rowan was still listed this morning as pastor on the church’s website.

The Roys Report reached out to Faith Baptist Church for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Police say they do not suspect foul play in Rowan’s death but added that the case is still under investigation.



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13 Responses

  1. Horrible tragedy for everyone. Sin is so disgusting.

    How can you be charged with rape in 2018 and still pastor a church? How deep our corruption runs and how far we have drifted.

      1. Whether pastor continues to run his church while being tried for rape has nothing to do with the legal system. A church is under no obligation to presume innocence — and even if it did, there’s absolutely no requirement to let keep preaching from the pulpit. Any well run church would have made him stand down until the court case had been concluded.

    1. You asked how it’s possible? Maybe this pastor employed the “ticket to sin” church leader doctrine which Watchman Nee invented back in 1948 (btw: while still under church discipline in Shanghai). Quotes from Nee’s book: “What a dangerous risk it is for God to set up for Himself authorities! How much He has to suffer if the delegated authorities that He set up have wrongly represented Him! But God is confident in the authority that He establishes. It is much easier for us to be confident in submitting to representative authorities than for God to be confident in setting them up. Since God is confident in handing over authority to man, are we still not confident in submitting to man? We should be confident in submitting to the authority which God is confident in establishing. If there is a mistake, it is not my mistake. It is the mistake of the authority. The Lord says that every person should be subject to the authorities over him. The difficulty is more on God’s part than on ours. When God trusts, so can we. When God is confident about His trust, so should we be even the more [1]…. Some may say, “What happens if the authority makes mistakes?” If God dares to trust those entrusted as authorities, then we dare to submit. Whether the authority makes mistakes or not has nothing to do with us. In other words, whether the deputy authority is right or wrong is a matter for which he has to be responsible before the Lord directly. Those that submit to authority need only to submit absolutely… The Lord will hold the deputy authority responsible for that sin. To disobey is to rebell [2].” Watchman Nee – Authority and Submission (Living Stream Ministry: 1988) pg 61-62.

    2. Perfectly said, sin is sickening. I am so discouraged and sad that a church could let him continue to minister. I can hardly believe what has been going on in the “Church”.

  2. This is devastating all around.

    To answer the question that has to be first on our minds, “What kind of church would..?” It looks to be a fundamentalist Baptist church. If you’ve read Phillip Yancey’s memoir, Where the Light Fell, that should give some context.

  3. I know, as Christians, we’re to have compassion toward all. But as a survivor whose offender still walks free and has molested and raped many more boys after it happened to me, this guys death brings me a level of comfort for the families of his victims. At least they won’t have to come back over and over again every time he would’ve come up for parole to relive the crime. Nor will they have to go through the horror if he’d been acquitted. Thankfully they can begin to heal without fear of him coming back into their lives ever again.

    1. I too want God’s compassion for people. But there are consequences on this Earth when we sin. This man knew he was guilty and took his own life rather than to go to prison. If I was the father of one of these girls I am not mad about what he did to himself. He ruined those girls’ lives. They could end up having serious mental and spiritual trouble. Will they be able to trust a man again? Who knows? It’s because this man chose to rape them. If he truly was saved then yes, the compassion of Jesus will be displayed. For Jesus died for all sin, not just the little ones. We leave him to God because the Lord knows those who are His.

  4. Reminds me of a similar case where a prominent Christian leader avoided facing justice in this cowardly manner. Voice of the Martyrs Executive Director Tom White Apparently Took Life Amid Allegations of Molesting a Child. The day before, allegations were made to authorities that Tom had inappropriate contact with a young girl. This happened in April 2012

  5. Hello. I attended this church a few times and was not aware of the things going on with the pastor. The pastor always had a good message but it seemed there was something off with the congregation. I couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t care too much for the church. I just knew I really didn’t feel the spirit in there when I went l. The only reason I kept going back us because my girlfriend at the time and her mom liked it and became members. I knew it wasn’t the home church I was looking for. The only reason 8 could give for that is I didn’t get filled With the spirit when I went. And the congregation was very bla. I could tell there was something off.
    There were roomers going around town about the rape charges but it was unclear who was being charged. There is another authority figure from that church who drives the bus and gets the kids. I was under the impression it was him being charged. Rape is a selfish sin and this is cowardly. I’m glad God gave me the discernment to stay away from that church. I’m currently attending a holiness church in Arkansas and the anointing is evident the moment you step in the door.

    1. Who is the one driving the bus getting the kids that he thought was under investigation?

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