Two Oregon men
were found not guilty of sex abuse when the prosecution
failed to produce evidence that they had used "psychic snake
oil" to lure a 17-year-old boy into having sex.
Eric James Pepin,
40, and Jamison Dwight Priebe, 21, were acquitted by
circuit court judge Steven L. Price on Wednesday.
Pepin's attorney, explained to the Hillsboro Argus
that Chris Young, now 20, had been looking to
make "easy money." Pepin owns the Higher Balance
Institute, an Internet-based company that promises
enlightenment through products and meditation
techniques. The Web site states that the company
mission is to provide "the tools and knowledge you need to
empower yourself, to transform your life into something
amazing, and to awaken to the wonder that lives within
Tuesday that he is gay and has had sexual relations with
several of his male employees, reported the Hillsboro
Argus. He said he was aware that Young was
underage when he hired him in March 2004. While Pepin
admitted a sexual relationship, he stated that it
occurred after Young turned 18.
that while he has a desire to help young people in need,
he is extremely careful about beginning sexual relations
that he met Priebe at a Starbucks and was quickly hired
by the Higher Balance Institute, according to the
Argus. He said that Pepin made sexual advances
and told him to "cross the abyss," a phrase referring to a
straight man engaging in homosexual acts to achieve
Both Priebe and
Pepin denied Young's allegations, although videotape
seized from Pepin's house showed the three men engaged
in explicit sexual acts. The defendants asserted it
happened after Young's 18th birthday.
The verdict was
released after five days of testimony. Judge Price
admitted he had problems believing Pepin or Priebe but felt
the state had not provided substantial evidence,
reported the Argus. Videotape was not enough to prove
underage sex, he explained of his decision.
"I find it is
probable that all of the conduct alleged occurred,"
Price said to the Argus. "But I have no choice
but to find the defendants not guilty on all counts."