Chattanooga: Powe found not guilty of statutory rape

Chattanooga: Powe found not guilty of statutory rape

December 9th, 2011 by Kate Harrison Belz in Local - Breaking News

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/Times Free Press.

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.