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Sisters Praised For Their Quick Reaction In Case Against Convicted Sex Offender

Reported: Mar. 21, 2014 5:31 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 21, 2014 6:47 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- It was a story that had many outraged last week when Eyewitness News told you about the convicted sex offender who allegedly admitted to waiting for young girls to get off the school bus, and then performing sex acts on himself in front of them on their way home.

Now, those girls are being recognized for their bravery in coming forward. That's the reason their mother wanted them to share their story. She hopes other children who may be put in similar situations will know what to do, and not be afraid to speak up.

At 3 p.m. on a normal school-day, sisters Tabetha, Shiann, and Whittney Barker get off the bus at the bottom of their hill, but one day, their normal walk home was anything but.

The girls, walking by a home on Neighbors Drive in Charleston, were startled by a tap on the window. Behind that window, troopers say John Rowe had his pants down, and was performing sex acts on himself. Immediately, the girls said they knew they had to get away.

"We told Mommy and ran up the hill!" they said.

A startling story coming from her children, Slena Priestly was even more shocked when she discovered Rowe was a registered sex offender previously convicted of third degree sexual abuse on a young girl.

The girls' stepfather, reacting how most would, and wanting to take matters into his own hands, but holding back.

"As a parent, the first thing you want to do is kick the door down and jerk them out of there but just let justice serve it's purpose," Brian Skeens said.

The girls, being praised for their bravery and honesty, say they want other kids to know when to speak up.

"Run! Run and tell your mom! That's what we did," they said.

Troopers said in court documents Rowe admitted he had been watching the children and knew what time they got off the school bus. They say he also confessed to what happened saying he did it because he was "sexually aroused."

Priestly believes if her children had not come to her, and kept it a secret, it was only a matter of time before he took it a step further.

"To be able to come forward and tell something like that is miraculous to me and my family," Priestly said.

On Friday, Rowe waived his preliminary hearing in magistrate court. His case will now be heard in circuit court. He is in jail on a $25,000 bond.

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