LGBT leader paid sex abuse victim not to testify, Oregon authorities say

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Terry Bean, a leading investor, LGBT advocate and political fundraiser, has been arrested in Oregon following allegations that he and his lawyer unlawfully paid $200,000 to prevent court testimony from a man who accused Bean and his ex-boyfriend of sexually abusing him at the age of 15.

Terrence Patrick Bean, now age 71, posted bail Oct. 30 after Portland police arrested him on a charge of a felony computer crime, The Oregonian reports. Authorities allege he tried to pay off the alleged victim of sex abuse to prevent his testimony.

The charge relates to the revived criminal case against him alleging that in September 2013 he committed two felony counts of third-degree sodomy and a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge.

The previous trial had been postponed when the alleged victim disappeared, and later refused to testify when he reappeared. The charges had been dismissed without prejudice in 2015. Prosecutors revived the case earlier this year.

Bean is a co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign and of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. He has been a major fundraiser for Democratic Party candidates, including President Barack Obama's campaign, the Oregonian reported.

Kiah Lawson, now 30, was Bean's boyfriend at the time of the alleged crime, when both men were in Eugene, Ore. for an Oregon Ducks game. In September 2019 Lawson was found guilty on identical sex abuse charges and sentenced to two years in prison.

Bean's lawyer, Derek Ashton, was also arrested on a felony computer crime for the alleged payoff and posted bail Oct. 30. The Oregon State Bar opened an ethics investigation against him in September.

Bean and Ashton are accused of arranging a $200,000 payment to the alleged victim, who was 15-years-old at the time of the alleged crime.

Steve Sherlag, Bean's new criminal defense attorney, rejected the charges against his client.

"While we are shocked at the new charge and the state's apparent shotgun approach, Mr. Bean unequivocally denies all of the state's claims and their attendant innuendo," Sherlag said, according to Williamette Week. "We look forward to exposing the full truth in open court and a full acquittal as justice requires."

The Human Rights Campaign has many corporate partners in its LGBT activism. It has lobbied businesses to push for "LGBT equality" in legislation and corporate policy, to recruit self-identified LGBT employees and to give financial support for LGBT organizations through LGBT-targeted marketing or advertising and philanthropic support.

The organization has been critical of Catholic teaching and practice as well as leaders like Pope Francis and the U.S. bishops. It seeks to promote lay Catholic allies who oppose what the campaign characterizes as "the U.S. hierarchy's anti-LGBTQ actions," according to the campaign website's Catholic initiatives section.

In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign responded to the charges against Bean. It said that Bean is one of 80 board members of the organization and he has no daily oversight or responsibility for its programs. He had taken a voluntary leave of absence from the board "until his issues are resolved," a spokesman told CNN.

CNA sought comment from the Human Rights Campaign but did not receive a response by deadline.

In Ashton and Bean's initial response to the charges, they proposed a "civil compromise," which under Oregon law can sometimes resolve criminal cases through an approved payment to an alleged victim. However, Lane County Judge Charles Zennache refused to allow it, Williamette Week reports.

August court filings from Lane County Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman claim to have evidence of possible criminal conduct showing Ashton used $220,000 to pay the alleged victim not to show up or testify during Bean's 2015 trial, The Oregonian reports.

Portland Police Bureau Detective Jeff Myers said Bean's lawyer Ashton and the alleged victim's lawyer worked to reach a civil settlement, 2019 court records say. ​They report a detailed plan to prevent investigators from finding the boy and that the alleged victim's own lawyer allegedly helped him hide.

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A defense motion over the summer from one of Bean's lawyers indicated that Deputy Lane County District Attorney Erik Hasselman claims to have evidence that Bean, Ashton, the boy's lawyer, and another attorney for a prosecutor's witness "committed the crimes of bribery, witness tampering and 'possibly' money laundering."

Bean attorney Kimberlee Volm, who filed the motion, told a judge that the statute of limitations had probably run out and would prevent charging Bean or Ashton with such charges.

KOIN 6 News said that the new arrests show that prosecutors believe they can proceed with some charges.

Bean has filed a $2 million civil lawsuit against Myers, the investigating officer; the prosecutor Erik Hasselman; and the alleged victim's civil attorney Sean Riddell. The lawsuit claims they colluded into coaxing the alleged victim into falsely claiming Bean had sexually abused him, The Oregonian reported in September.

Riddell has filed a $6.15 million civil lawsuit against Bean on behalf of the alleged victim.

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