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Antigay Christian
leader admits to molesting young girls

Antigay Christian
leader admits to molesting young girls

The longtime leader of the Oregon Christian Coalition and staunch opponent of gay rights in the state admits in a newly released police report that he sexually touched three underage girls years ago, despite denials of such behavior to a newspaper.

Lou Beres denied sexual molestation allegations when The Oregonian first reported them last October. But a Gresham Police Department report released as part of a lawsuit said Beres "readily admitted sexually touching" one girl when she was 13 or 14 years old. He also acknowledged sexually touching a 16- or 17-year-old friend of his daughter in 1976 or 1977.

Last fall Gresham police investigated allegations that Beres had molested underage family members. But Multnomah County district attorney Michael Shrunk said the statute of limitations would prohibit any charges because the allegations occurred so long ago. In March, Beres, 70, was sued in Multnomah County circuit court for $2.1 million by a relative who said he molested her repeatedly between 1963 and 1966.

The Oregonian said Beres did not return a phone call Tuesday. His attorney, John Kaempf, told the newspaper the statements attributed to Beres by the police were not accurate. Beres told police that he had received counseling through his church and admitted his mistakes years ago, according to the Gresham police report.

However, other relatives expressed concern to police that the abuse continued for several years through more than one generation of the family, according to the report. In a telephone call with an investigator, Beres "made admissions to three separate victims at three different times," the police report said. "All involved underage females. The offenses ranged from kissing to touching the breast of an underage girl.

Beres identified the victims as his sister-in-law and two friends of his daughters, said one of the investigators, according to Det. Lee Gosson of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department. "It should be noted that Mr. Beres said his activities with the girls were in a playful fashion," Gosson said. "I told him that the acts were sexual, and he agreed."

Kaempf said that in addition to disputing the statements in the police report, Beres also denied the allegations in the lawsuit. A hearing is scheduled next month on a motion by Kaempf to dismiss the lawsuit.

Last fall Beres said he would withdraw from public life while he fought the allegations. However, as late as last week, records show that he signed a $50 check on the Oregon Christian Coalition checking account to renew the group's business registration with the state. When asked about Beres's relationship with the Oregon Christian Coalition, Kaempf said Beres would ask the coalition to "file the necessary paperwork with the state to formalize Mr. Beres's resignation as its chairman."

Michele Combs, spokeswoman for the national office of the Christian Coalition, told The Oregonian that she would check on Beres's status with the group but failed to provide an answer Tuesday and could not be reached by subsequent phone calls.

The Oregon Christian Coalition shut its office last year and does not appear to have any paid staff. Tim Nashif of the antigay Oregon Family Council, another conservative Christian group, said the coalition is "not doing anything" in the state as far as he can see. Nashif noted that Beres, once active in Republican politics, got almost no support when he tried to win a seat on the Republican National Committee. (AP)

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