WINTER PARK, Fla. – A popular pastor and Orlando radio host claimed he loved a teenage girl from his congregation that he sexually abused nearly 200 times over several years, according to the Winter Park Police Department.
On Friday, more details were released about the circumstances that led to the arrest of Rev. Bryan Fulwider, 59. He is a founder and co-host on the radio show “Friends Talking Faith,” which is broadcast weekly on WMFE and its sister station, WMFV.
According to the recently released documents, the victim reported the abuse on Tuesday, saying it occurred beginning in 2005 when she was 14 years old.
She told police she met Fulwider at First Congregational Church of Winter Park when she was 7 years old, but the sexual abuse didn't begin until her teenage years, during which she began spending more time at the church, records show.
The inappropriate contact started when Fulwider asked for the victim's AOL screenname and began sending her sexually inappropriate messages, including a vulgar video, when she was 13, according to a warrant.
Police said after the girl turned 14, she began working at the church, and Fulwider began touching her inappropriately and forcing himself on her. The abuse occurred at the church, during church trips, in parking lots and in a hotel room, according to the report.
The girl confided in the pastor about problems at home in school and he would ask her to send nude and sexual photos, the documents said.
She estimates that she was abused more than 100 times at church and 75 times in vehicles in various parking lots from the time she was 14, up until she was 18, records show.
Police said the victim conducted a controlled phone call with Fulwider, and he explained that he received a letter from the Florida Conference United Church of Christ informing him that he was being investigated due to a sexual abuse allegation.
He told the victim, "That would be the best thing for me," if she didn't say anything to investigators because he knew she was the only person the letter could be referencing, according to authorities.
Records show Fulwider said, "It would be as if I was a predator and you were victimized by me." He said the relationship between them came from "love," according to the affidavit.
"There was nothing salacious or bad about it, and you were always way too damn mature for your own good, and I have always loved you," Fulwider said, according to the report. Police said he also claimed, "It wasn't like I was off hunting people. It was a connection."
Fulwider was arrested Tuesday on 30 counts of sexual battery by a person who is in a position of custodial authority to a person less than 18 years of age.
Fulwider's attorney, Chris Kaigle, said the allegations against his client are untrue and he's looking forward to having his day in court.
"I would caution everybody that we really need to stop making a rush to judgment. We are talking about a public servant who has faithfully dedicated his life to serving the community that we live in. These are very serious allegations and we are looking to aggressively mounting a defense and clearing his good name," Kaigle said.
He said Fulwider is doing as well as he can be given the circumstances.
"He is holding up. He is staying positive. These are very serious allegations, and he is aware of that. There's a complete denial to each and every allegation," Kaigle said.
Since the arrest, "Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys" on WMFE has taken a hiatus.
First Congregational Church of Winter Park released a statement Thursday about Fulwider's arrest.
"Our church community has been deeply pained to learn of the arrest of Bryan Fulwider, who resigned from First Congregational more than seven years ago. At this time, we have no information about this matter, but we pray that any victim associated with this be given privacy in order to move forward and heal," Rev. Shawn Garvey said in the statement.
Winter Park police ask anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a crime involving Fulwider to call 407-599-3211.