Michael Bowling, a 46-year-old former resident of Bunnell, was arrested in Kentucky and is expected at the Flagler County jail today or tomorrow after he was charged with several counts of raping a child and molesting another. The rape charges involve a close relative, whom he is accused of sexually assaulting for the past seven years, since she was 8.
The alleged assaults came to light last year, by which time the girl was 15, after a sleep-over in Bunnell involving another 15 year old girl who’d gone to Bowling’s house to see her friend in June 2016.
At some point during that evening, Bowling joined the girls in the girl’s bedroom to play a game with them. The agreed-upon rules were such that the loser would have to do something determined by the winner.
When the 15 year old who was visiting lost a game, Bowling told her: “Down the hall and unlock the right door,” which was a euphemism that meant the girl had to expose her right breast to him. The “game” then went on to her having to expose both breasts, to which Bowling allegedly told her she had “a nice pair.” The victim then said she saw Bowling kiss her friend on the mouth and fondle her breasts. Her friend told her she was used to Bowling being a “perv.”
Later they played “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” the teen party game that originated in the 1950s where a couple ends up in a dark closet and does whatever they like. The girl visiting the house ended up in the closet with Bowling, twice, who allegedly proceeded to molest the girl, then take his pants off and masturbate, asking the girl: “When I’m finished, where do you want me to put it?”
The question and what he told the girl next proved to be his undoing. He had satisfied himself and told the victim that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” which was accurate: some of the semen he had sprayed had landed on the girl, but some stayed in the closet, visible both to the naked eye and to a Crime Scene Investigator’s ultraviolet light. A CSI technician conducted a semen-presumptive test at the time of the initial investigation, three months after the alleged incident. It came back positive for semen. A sample was then sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s crime lab for DNA analysis. The DNA test linked the semen to Bowling.
It took a year for the results to return to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. (In March 2016, well before the samples were sent to FDLE, Gov. Rick Scott signed into a law a requirement that all rape kits be analyzed and returned to their agency of origin within 120 days. That law, however, appears to contain a loophole that enables DNA analysis that is not directly part of a rape kit from falling within the same deadlines, even though the evidence being analyzed is clearly part of a sexual assault.)
The second charging affidavit alleges that Bowling has been assaulting the other 15-year-old girl (the one the first girl was visiting that night) since she was 8 years old, when the family was living in Kentucky, continuing after the family moved to Florida in February 2015. That victim was interviewed by the 1st Coast Child Protection Team on Sept. 30, 2016. Four days earlier, she had allegedly been the victim of a rape. She was therefore medically examined, providing further DNA evidence.
The girl told the protection team that she was repeatedly raped and held against her will, in one case staring at the clock as Bowling allegedly forced himself on her. She described a series of incidents resulting in three counts of rape and three counts of molestation.
Two days before that child protection team interview, Bowling himself was interviewed by Flagler County Sherriff Detective Dennis Lashbrook, who led the investigation. Bowling said he’d been in the girl’s bedroom playing cards with her and her friend, but he insisted he never went into the closet with one of the girls, nor did he play “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” He denied having any sex in the closet. He did submit to a DNA swab.
Lashbrook retrieved the DNA reports from the FDLE database on Dec. 1, showing a match between Bowling’s swab and that retrieved from the closet in 2016. Bowling was arrested by the Dayton Police Department in Kentucky on Dec. 8. He had left Bunnell to return to Kentucky during the course of the investigation. He is being extradited to Flagler.
Depending on how the State Attorney’s Office files the charges, child rape—or sexual battery on a child—is either a life felony or a capital felony, either way exposing a defendant to life in prison on conviction.
On Nov. 6, his wife filed for divorce.