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Gay Activist Terry Bean Accused of Bribing Teen Over Sex Charge

Gay Activist Terry Bean Accused of Bribing Teen Over Sex Charge

Terry Bean

A computer crime charge against HRC cofounder Bean is related to the accusation that he bribed a young man not to testify against him in a sex abuse case.

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Longtime LGBTQ rights activist Terry Bean has been arrested on a charge of felony computer crime, related to accusations that he bribed a young man not to testify against him in a sex abuse case.

Bean, a cofounder of the Human Rights Campaign and Victory Fund, was arrested last Wednesday in Portland, Ore., The Oregonian reports. He had flown home to Portland from Palm Springs, Calif., where he had been vacationing, upon learning that his former attorney had been arrested in the same case. He was released after posting $3,000 bail.

The charges stem from an allegation that Bean and his then-boyfriend, Kiah L. Lawson, had sex with a 15-year-old boy in a hotel room in Eugene, Ore., in 2013. Bean was in his 60s at the time and Lawson in his 20s, and they had reportedly met the teen through Grindr. Both men maintained their innocence, but they were set to go to trial on sex abuse charges in 2015 when the accuser, identified publicly only by the initials M.S.G., decided not to testify, leading to dismissal of the case.

But this year, M.S.G. came forward and said he now wanted to testify, so prosecutors in Lane County, where Eugene is located, revived the case. Lawson had said he made up the story to get back at Bean after they broke up, but he was found guilty in September of felony third-degree sodomy and misdemeanor third-degree sexual abuse, according to the Associated Press. He was sentenced to two years in prison. Bean is scheduled to go to trial in May on the same charges.

In August, Lane County Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman filed court papers saying he had evidence that Bean, through his then-attorney Derek Ashton, had paid the accuser $220,000 not to testify in 2015, The Oregonian reports. They could not be charged with witness tampering or bribing a witness because the statute of limitations for those crimes, three years, had expired, but they could still be charged with felony computer crime. "It appears the statute of limitations for the computer charge could be as long as six years under the theory that the pair allegedly used a computer to commit witness bribing or tampering," the paper notes.

Bean has hired a new criminal defense lawyer, Steven Sherlag, who released a statement saying, "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. "Once Mr. Bean heard of the new charge, he cut a vacation short and rushed home to register his plea of not guilty. We look forward to exposing the full truth in open court and a full acquittal as justice requires."

In addition to his work with HRC and Victory Fund, Bean has been a major donor to numerous Democratic political candidates. He is a real estate developer in Portland.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.