On April 20, 2018, Pennsylvania State Police arrested 36-year-old Bloomsburg Mayor, Eric T. Boweron two counts of patronizing prostitutes (third degree misdemeanors), a criminal attempt charge of patronizing prostitutes (a third degree misdemeanor), and a criminal solicitation charge of patronizing prostitutes (also a third degree misdemeanor). Police told news sources that Bower has an alleged pattern of this behavior, soliciting commercial sex several times in the past. According to The Allentown Morning Call, Bower allegedly appeared at the Hampton Inn in Scott Township with $200 in cash and condoms on April 20 around 6 p.m. A confidential informant met him there where he expected sex in exchange for payment. Instead, he was promptly arrested.
According to PennLive, Bower was released from jail after posting bond. Since his release, he has spoken to media outlets in northeastern Pennsylvaniaabout his arrest. In an interview with WBRE-TV, he called the episode “embarrassing” but refused to resign from office. He also admitted a longstanding relationship with an allegedly prostituted woman “over a period of time” but claimed it was a consensual relationship.
In an interview with WNEP-TV, Bower suspected she “must have turned into some kind of informant” and vowed to contest the charges. He claimed this prosecution is part of a larger “political” campaign to remove him from office. According to court records, Bower was scheduled to appear in court again on May 2 for a preliminary hearing, where he planned to plead not guilty. However, the hearing was continued and will now take place on May 22.
The CSE Institute applauds the Pennsylvania State Police for targeting the demand for commercial sex and making this arrest. While Mayor Bower may not recognize the extremely problematic nature of his alleged acts given his job, the influential “Time’s Up” movement certainly has. Men in positions of power often purchase sex because they feel entitled to it. As Bower himself said, he was repeatedly seeing a woman who he was paying for sex, which he allegedly labeled a “consensual relationship”. The woman in question was reportedly the same informant who ultimately brought Bower to the attention of the authorities. Though the details of the case so far are scant, Bower’s position as a political figure cannot be ignored. Mayor Bower’s position of authority creates an automatic power differential that makes it extremely difficult for victims to feel safe enough to report misconduct. As such, we would like to commend the bravery of those individuals who came forward here in this case. We will continue to provide updates on this case as it continues to unfold.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.