Stephen Bratton Houston pastor
Former Baptist pastor Stephen Bratton of Houston, Texas has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for molesting a child. (Photo: Harris County Sheriff's Office)

After Colleagues Turned Him In, Pastor Sentenced to 17 Years for Molesting A Child

By Sarah Einselen

A pastor’s colleagues at a Baptist church in Houston, Texas reported him to police the same day that he confessed to sexually abusing a child. Now, the former pastor has been convicted of the crime and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Stephen Bratton, 46, was sentenced last Friday after being convicted in February of aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age 14, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s office. In 2019, Bratton admitted to molesting a young teen for about five years beginning when she was 13, the DA’s office stated Tuesday in a press release.

Before his arrest, Bratton was pastor of preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Houston, an archived staff listing from 2018 shows.

“Several other pastors came forward to tell authorities what was going on after this man confessed to them, and we applaud those people of conscience,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said in the release. “This man, who had risen to a position of authority in the church, turned a child into a victim and violated his community’s trust. The victim and his community deserved, and got, justice.”

Inmate records show he remains incarcerated in the Harris County Jail system.

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Bratton first told his wife about his crime May 15, 2019, and she contacted the other pastors at Grace Family Baptist, Erin Frye and Aaron Wright, to arrange a meeting with them, the Houston Chronicle reported. Bratton also contacted them after talking to his wife.

He told the pastors “that he had assaulted the teenage girl for several years with inappropriate touching that escalated to sexual intercourse,” according to the DA’s office.

After Bratton’s revelation, the pastors called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office the same day. A criminal investigation began the following day. The pastor of a Baptist church in neighboring Montgomery County, David Shiflet, was also apparently made aware of the confession, and told the Chronicle he called the Department of Family Protective Services.

Stephen Bratton

Frye and Wright told the Grace Family Baptist congregation the next Sunday, four days after Bratton confessed, the Chronicle reported. He was excommunicated that day. Shiflet also told his congregation, where several people knew Bratton. The pastors told the Chronicle they’re not aware of any other victims.

The church’s elders also posted a public statement to the church website on June 16, 2019, shortly after Bratton’s arrest June 14.

The elders said in the statement that Bratton’s confession was the first time they’d heard about his ongoing sexual abuse. “This activity is wrong according to Biblical and civil law and the church condemns the behavior as abhorrent,” an archived version of the statement reads. “. . . The elders have called upon Stephen Bratton to accept the full responsibility for his actions and to place himself at the mercy of the criminal justice system.”

They also stated they had “deep grief for the victim” and were trying to protect her privacy.

Grace Family Baptist doesn’t have an apparent denominational affiliation, but it’s listed as a Reformed Baptist church on ReformedWiki.com. The Roys Report asked for comment from the pastors but hasn’t heard back.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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7 thoughts on “After Colleagues Turned Him In, Pastor Sentenced to 17 Years for Molesting A Child”

  1. Distressing as it is to hear of yet another tragic incident of child sexual abuse by a pastor, it appears that church staff are finally learning they must immediately report abuse to the appropriate authorities.

    That is some improvement over the previous bias of many churches towards keeping these crimes quiet and attempting to manage them internally.

  2. “Grace Family Baptist doesn’t have an apparent denominational affiliation, but it’s listed as a Reformed Baptist church on ReformedWiki.com.”

    Nothing reformed about this sicko or his church. No matter what the denomination preying of congregants for sexual pleasure is and always has been just plain wrong. Pedophilia makes it even worse. I applaud the other church members for bringing this pervert to justice.

    1. Reformed theology tends to attract these types. Because many in that camp teach that God is the cause of all things including sin. And we are merely “predestined” to do whatever ends up happening.

  3. I am a Seminary trained Christian Man, and I understand Biblical theology and doctrine……which means that I understand the Bible’s teaching concerning the Total Depravity of mankind. We all have the capacity to commit atrocious Sins against our fellow man, even against the innocence of young children…..but I confess wholeheartedly that I will NEVER understand how a grown adult man can be sexually aroused by a child! No one has ever explained that one to me, not even during my Bible College and Seminary years. Why a Minister, Husband, Father, Father figure, and respected citizen in the Community would risk and tarnish his good name and more significantly, the holy name of Christ, to satisfy an unnatural desire to be with an underage child is beyond me! I pray that the victim will not be permanently damaged by this experience in her life and that she will not lose faith in Christ or the honor that comes with serving Him through His Church. And I also pray for the perpetrator that true repentance and restoration and reconciliation will be his someday after he has paid his debt and served his time, and any restitution that he may owe to the victim and her family. Maybe his life can be used for the ultimate glory of God if the aforementioned things are true in his heart and life. God is the God of a second chance!

  4. One of the problems that has facilitated this crime historically is the lack of action. Abusers and potential abusers need to know that their victim’s complaints will attract a police investigation, that anyone who knows of it will report to the police. Investigation will follow as will charges, if warranted, conviction, if guilty and prison thereafter. The fact that this seems to have not been the case historically means that in the past church, society and the law abetted these crimes.

  5. To blame this on reformed theology or that this type of doctrine attracts these types is wrong. Total depravity is a universal problem. That is actually a false dichotomy Mr Reeder. My kids are teenagers and if an adult were to molest them male or female adult tragically both sexes are participating in this sin. This isn’t a doctrinal camp problem it is a heart problem.

  6. Not that it matters, the Church that is involved with this, I believe is Voddie Baucham’s old Church where he Pastored. I could be wrong, but I believe it is due to the name: Grace Family Baptist Church.

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