UPDATE: "Friends Talking Faith" Co-Host Charged With 30 Counts Of Sexual Battery On A Minor
A well-known Central Florida pastor and radio host is charged with 30 counts of sexual battery on a minor.
He appeared Thursday before a Seminole County judge.
The Rev. Bryan Fulwider was handcuffed and wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit in his first appearance. The judge ordered him transferred to Orange County. He is being held without bond.
Police say Fulwider committed the assaults between 2005 and 2010 while senior pastor of the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. The Winter Park Police Department has asked anyone with knowledge of the case, including anyone who "believes they have been a victim of a crime involving the Defendant," to call 407-599-3211.
Fulwider denies the charges.
"Our new reality is one that finds public figures, and people of success, as targets for individuals looking to take advantage of them in this era of 'gotcha' politics and news," said Jacob Stuart, an attorney representing Fulwider. "It’s happened before and it’s happening here. Rev. Fulwider has done nothing but faithfully serve the citizens of Central Florida for many years. Rev. Fulwider has committed no crime; nor has Rev. Fulwider done anything wrong or inappropriate.
"We vehemently deny each and every allegation that has been made against him. We look forward to facing each of these meritless allegations head-on and will aggressively fight to clear the Rev. Fulwider’s proud and good name as a servant to our family of communities."
Fulwider served for 13 years at First Congregational Church of Winter Park, ending in 2012.
“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," the church said. "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.”
Fulwider also is part of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and co-host of Friends Talking Faith, an independent program produced at and airing weekly on WMFE since 2012 and sister station WMFV since last year. The public radio station has no financial interest in or editorial control of the program, other than it is required to meet policies for fairness and accuracy.
WMFE says the program is on hiatus as the legal process plays out.All Things Considered will air in the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday timeslot beginning Oct. 8.
"Everyone at WMFE is shocked and saddened by today’s revelations concerning Rev. Bryan Fulwider," said Stephen Yasko, interim president and general manager of WMFE and WMFV. "Friends Talking Faith has been a part of our programming schedule since 2012 and has helped thousands of people understand their faith, their communities and themselves in times of trouble, conflict and personal hardships.
"Conversations amongst the Three Wise Guys have been both philosophical and personal. However, we must remember that these are serious charges affecting the victim, the victim’s family and many, many other people. We have chosen to place the show on hiatus as the legal, moral and ethical processes play out.
"Friends Talking Faith is not a WMFE production. It is produced by Friends Talking Faith Radio, a separate company. Friends Talking Faith used the WMFE studios to record their programs and supplied their own production team. WMFE did not — other to ensure they complied with our fairness standards — exert editorial control over the program."
Fulwider was a finalist for the Orlando Sentinel’s 2018 Central Floridian of the Year award, which the newspaper has been giving since 1983.
It is WMFE's policy to engage an independent reporter to cover a story in which a person directly associated with WMFE becomes the subject of a news story. The station became aware of this story involving the host of an independently produced radio show heard on WMFE and WMFV after business hours.
A WMFE reporter has written this initial story. WMFE will engage an independent reporter for future coverage to avoid the appearance of bias or favoritism in our reporting.