An Oregon judge on Tuesday dismissed sex with minor charges against gay rights leader and real estate developer Terry Bean after prosecutors said they decided not to force the 17-year-old alleged victim in the case to testify against Bean at a trial.
At the request of prosecutors, Lane County Circuit Court Judge Jay McAlpin dismissed the case “without prejudice,” an action that allows prosecutors to reinstate the case within the next 12 years if the alleged victim changes his mind and agrees to testify.
But the youth, who was 15 at the time authorities allege he had sex with Bean, 66, and Bean’s former boyfriend, Kiah Lawson, 25, indicates through a statement by his attorney that he has no intention of changing his mind.
The youth has made his “unwillingness to testify known at every step in this process,” attorney Lori Deveny said in the statement. “My client was bullied and manipulated” by the lead detective in the case, she said, and was “threatened with incarceration” by a special prosecutor when he refused to be bullied into testifying.
“My client wants no part of this prosecution and never did,” Deveny said.
Bean and Lawson were indicted last November on two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, in connection with allegations that they had sex with the then 15-year-old in a hotel room in Eugene in September 2013. Both have pleaded not guilty.
An attorney representing Lawson has said that Lawson and Bean met the youth through the mobile phone app Grindr.
At Tuesday’s court hearing McAlpin also dropped the charges against Lawson.
The decision by Lane County Chief Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman and Lane County prosecutor Scott Healy to drop the charges came a little over a month after they informed McAlpin that the 17-year-old had gone into hiding with the full consent of his mother after making it clear he didn’t want to testify against Bean.
The youth’s decision to dodge efforts by prosecutors to find him came immediately after another judge rejected a civil agreement reached between Bean and the youth that, under Oregon law, allowed them to petition the court to dismiss the criminal case against Bean.
Hasselman revealed for the first time following the judge’s dismissal of the case that the agreement called for Bean to pay the youth more than $200,000, according to the Eugene Register Guard.
Bean and his attorney released statements immediately after reiterating their longstanding assertions that Bean never had sex with the then-15-year-old and that the allegations against Bean were part of a scheme by Lawson and others to extort money from Bean.
Bean’s attorneys have said all along that Lawson hatched the scheme to shake Bean down for money shortly after an acrimonious breakup of their relationship.
“While we are pleased with today’s outcome, this is a case that should never have been brought in the first place,” said attorney Derek Ashton. “For almost a year we have been silent about the truth so that we could try this case in court and not in the media as the prosecutor tried to do,” he said.
Had the case gone to trial, Ashton said, the defense would have presented evidence that “Bean left the hotel room before anything happened, after being set up there by Kiah Lawson,” he said. “We had a witness who would have attested to the fact that he left.”
Ashton said the defense lined up proof that Lawson and an accomplice had “numerous contacts” with the youth “to get their stories straight” before Lawson led police to the youth.
According to Ashton, at the advice of Lawson and the accomplice, the youth initially “sought a civil attorney to make a financial claim before the police were ever involved.”
In his own statement, Bean said, “I take some measure of comfort that the world can now see what I have always known – that I was falsely accused and completely innocent of every accusation that was made.”
Bean said he remained silent for nearly a year at the advice of his attorney.
“I didn’t go through this alone,” he said in his statement. “My friends, family and business associates suffered alongside of me both because of the false accusations and their support of me. I am immensely grateful and moved by their unwavering support,” he said.
“I look forward to being able to tell the story of this conspiracy of lies, deceit, blackmail, malicious prosecution and yes, homophobia, now that this case has ended,” Bean said.
However, in yet another twist in the ongoing saga surrounding the Bean case, prosecutor Healy told the Register Guard that Bean could potentially face charges in connection with an “unspecified, ongoing investigation” about which Healy declined to provide further information.
The Register Guard also reported that Hasselman told the newspaper that “Bean was the person that rented the room, and that the victim – despite his refusal to testify at this time — maintains that the allegations are true.”
It couldn’t immediately be determined whether Bean would now resume his longtime involvement in LGBT rights activities, including his role as a board member of the Human Rights Campaign, which he helped to found in the 1980s. Before stepping aside from his LGBT and Democratic Party involvements at the time of his indictment last year, Bean was also a member of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic National Committee and a prominent Democratic fundraiser.