published Friday, December 9th, 2011

Chattanooga: Powe found not guilty of statutory rape

  • photo
    Ronnie Powe, Jr., sits at the defense table during the first day of testimony in Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom Tuesday in his trial on charges of statutory rape.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

The son of a Chattanooga pastor has been found not guilty of statutory rape, a jury decided Friday in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Ronnie Powe, Jr. had been accused of masturbating and briefly performed oral sex on a 15-year-old boy on Feb. 15 after a Chattanooga Police Officer found the two in a car together behind the old East Lake Middle School.

Though Powe’s defense acknowledged that the encounter took place, they had contested that Powe did not know the teen’s age.

Throughout proceedings, Powe’s attorneys referred to the profile the boy had created a profile on an adult black gay website, which indicated his age as 18 at the time Powe met him.

“We felt that the jury understood what we were arguing. We said at the very beginning of this case ‘our client is a victim.’ I think the jury agreed,” said Bill Speek, one of Powe's attorney.

Powe is the son of Ronnie Powe Sr., the pastor of Chattanooga’s United Tabernacle Church of God in Christ.

For more information, read Saturday’s Times Free Press.

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esaletnik said...

So the he/she told me he/she was 18 defense worked? The law clearly states that a crime is committed if the abused is not of age in the jurisdiction prosecuted. It doesn't matter what the abused told the perpetrator. Is our District Attorneys office that incompetent as to not instruct the jury of this? Something tells me the whole story is not being told here.

December 9, 2011 at 4:26 p.m.
BravesDave said...

Free to re-offend and you can bet he will.

December 9, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.
dadofboys said...

Why is it "son of Pastor". What does that have to do with anything. This is as stupid as the "all girl forensics team".

December 10, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.
jesse said...

need to pass a NEW law!

"before you give someone a b.j. check their i.d."

like they do me when i buy beer,and i'm 72 yrs. old!!!

December 10, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.
ThinBlue706 said...

The prosecutor did instruct the jury of the law. You are correct in stating that it does not matter what the juvenile says about their age, the burden of proof lies with the adult.

The jury obviously bought the whole idea of consenting "adults" and ingored the law. The jury apparently thought the juvenile presented himself as an adult, consented to the contact, did not claim abuse or coersion and therefore the defendant was innocent. The problem with that is, that is NOT the law. I love the fact this "act" was all in the publics view. I believe the fact that the act was commited behind the old East Lake school was fantasy based for the defendant. This leads one to believe he fantasizes about young boys, not men. Dave is correct, free to offend again....just smarter about how to avoid detection.

Also, did I not read in an earlier article that the defendant gave the juvenile alcohol and were these "acts" not performed in public view on city property? No convictions for contributing to the deliquency of a minor, providing alcohol to a minor, or lewd or lasvicious acts in public or on city property? Never trust a case to twelve people not smart enought to get out of jury duty!

Dadofboys I agree with you. What is all of this exta editorializing with useless "facts". So what if his father is a pastor, that makes the incident any MORE horrific? His father is not responsible for his adult sons actions. Just like the all female anthropologist team. What differance does that make unless someone is just trying to fill column inches. But, the liberal press does like to take their pot shots at anything relating to religion. If the pastors, priests, or religious have done nothing wrong, then lets point out what there children have done. I guess this makes the defendants father guilty by proxy or maybe an attempt to throw dirt on an otherwise honorable man.

I agree with jesse, pass a law: House act 6969 states: One must check the age and identification of another before the performance of oral sex....after giving them public... behind an old school. Subsection (a) states if a person does not have a state issued i.d. the state will issue one at no charge.

December 10, 2011 at 3:40 p.m.
rolando said...

C'mon, ThinBlue, it's called "jury nullification" as I am sure you know. Lawyers hate it, judges hate it, [some stiff-necked, you-in-a-heap-uh-trubble-boy type] cops hate it. Judges have ordered it not to be used [to no avail]. They refuse to mention it. They are frightened of it.

The act has a long and honorable history, negating ill-conceived laws back to feudal England and perhaps beyond.

It is society's way of telling the Legislature what they think of their more egregiously stupid, cast-in-concrete laws...laws like the 55mph national speed limit that everyone obeyed so carefully [yeah, right].

If the jury thought it was a consensual act, that's the decision -- right or wrong. That's what our judicial system is all about. Perhaps it is time to re-examine our "age-of-consent laws.

Brent Bozell's article on today's is perhaps food for thought on how our children are "educated" in sex well beyond their years. See

It is a condemnation of the raunchiest "reality" shows favored by 14-17 year-olds.

December 10, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
jburney said...

"Our client is a victim..." Wait a minute, who is the victim? Ask this child's mother, I bet she can clear that up for you. I wonder if because he is a male child, the jury sees this differently. I highly doubt the some kind of similar sexual assault on a female, would get this result.
And is "briefly performed oral sex" the same as "a little bit pregnant"? How long does it have to take place for it to count? This is a serious story, with a child involved. Just because neither the victim nor the perpetrator wanted to admit this fact, does not negate it's validity. He should be in jail, the child should be in counseling.

December 18, 2011 at 9 a.m.
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