MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A popular Florida pastor is behind bars after being accused of molesting two Tennessee sisters.
Police said he was supposed to be the teenage girls’ spiritual advisor, but instead took advantage of their trust.
The case was referred to Murfreesboro Sex Crimes Detectives by the Department of Children Services.
Detectives interviewed the victims and presented the case to a grand jury, which handed down an indictment.
“What you can do to serve the Lord and the will of God is to make sure you pray,” said Pastor David Rowan in one of his last sermon at Faith Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, before being arrested.
Days later Rowan was handcuffed and hauled off to jail.
Rowan was in Murfreesboro speaking at a local church in 2014 when the incident happened.
“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,” said Detective Tommy Roberts. “He ended up taking them to a local hotel here in the city of Murfreesboro where evidence showed that he molested the teenage girls.”
Rowan took the girls to the Imperial Inn on NW Broad Street.
It’s the same hotel that was damaged by a tornado in 2015. It has since been renovated and the name and management has changed.
Detectives said Rowan was well-known to the family, even serving as their spiritual advisor.
“He had gained permission from the daughters’ mother just to give them some spiritual guidance while they were supposed to be going out,” Roberts said. “This man took extreme advantage of these young ladies’ trust to molest them.”
Detective Roberts and Detective Michael Yates traveled to Florida in December and spoke with the pastor at his home and at his church next door.
After the grand jury handed down the indictment, Rowan was arrested by U.S. Marshals.
These type of cases tugs at the hearts of detectives.
“Especially with both of us being fathers, you know, these cases are very tough, especially involving little children,” Yates said.
Rowan is charged with rape, unlawful sexual contact and sexual battery by an authority figure.
Detectives said religious leaders are usually held to a higher standard and are often trustworthy.
“Anytime you take advantage of a child, it is especially egregious,” Roberts said. “I think when you’re in a position of trust, when you’re in position of authority as Pastor Rowan was, I that that adds to the egregiousness.”
“Certainly it raises the bar because of the level of trust when you think of a pastor you think of somebody you can confide in, completely trust, especially with your children,” Yates added.
News 2 reached out to Faith Baptist Church for comment. A woman answered the phone and said, “Sir, I don’t have nothing to say. Thank You.”
She then politely hung up the phone.
Rowan is expected to be extradited back to Rutherford County within a couple of weeks.