Kenneth Bowen, a one-time Clayton County Police Department recruit, pleaded not guilty to charges he raped seven women and assaulted several others during an arraignment on Friday.
With several of Bowen’s alleged victims in attendance, Clayton Superior Court Judge Aaron Mason set a target trial date for sometime in April after Bowen’s attorney notified the judge that he would be seeking a psychiatric evaluation of his client.
“That’s the first major thing that the defense intends to do in this case,” said John Turner, Bowen’s attorney.
Friday’s arraignment was Bowen’s first court appearance since a Clayton grand jury handed down a 60-count indictment against him last week. The charges included seven counts of rape, five counts of aggravated sodomy, six counts of armed robbery and eight counts of false imprisonment.
Bowen was arrested this past August after police allegedly linked his DNA to a series of rapes dating back to 2015. Part of what led authorities to him was his short stint in the summer of 2018 with Clayton Police as a recruit, police said.
Victims reported their attacker had tattoos on his arms and police noted the similarity of those described by the victims with ones Bowen sported. He was fired from the department three months after becoming a training recruit in June 2018 for arriving to training nearly four hours late.
Turner said he will seek the psychiatric exam next week and hopes a report can be finished 30 days after Bowen is examined. He said he also is waiting on an investigative report, or “discovery” in legal terms, from officials that he will need to turn over to the medial evaluators.
“I’ll be waiting on that before there is an official evaluation,” he said.
Millicent Benson, who is one of Bowen’s victims cited in the indictment, said she took a half-day off from work Friday so she could attend the arraignment. She said staying aware of every aspect of the case, including how the charges are handled, is a priority for her.
“I wanted to make sure the trial isn’t pushed out so far into the future that some victims would give up,” she said. “I want to make sure he doesn’t get off with a light sentence.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not release the names of victims of rape unless they give their consent. Benson has openly spoken about her attack in an attempt to try to remove the stigma victims often feel and to encourage others to report assaults against them.
“The more that I talk about it, the more pressure I release,” she said.
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