Terry Bean, the Portland gay-rights activist and real-estate investor, avoided trial last month on charges that he'd had sex with a 15-year-old boy, when the alleged victim refused to testify against Bean.
That refusal caused a Lane County Circuit Court judge to dismiss the case against Bean without prejudice, which means charges could be refiled if the alleged victim changes his mind and decides to testify.
The Sept. 1 trial dismissal meant that Oregonians never got to hear Bean, who has from the beginning of the investigation denied any wrongdoing, testify in court.
And when the Lane County charges were dismissed, Bean said that was the only fair outcome.
"I have been silent for almost a year on the advice of my attorney, but while I am relieved that the charges against me have been dropped, this nightmare never should have even begun," Bean said in a Sept. 1 statement. "I take some measure of comfort that the world now knows what I have always known – that I was falsely accused and completely innocent of every accusation that was made."
Less than two weeks later, in a related trial in Washington County, Bean actually did get a chance to testify.
In the Washington County case, Bean's former boyfriend, and his co-defendant in the Lane County case, Kiah Lawson, faced charges that he'd had sex with a 17-year-old boy in June 2013.
Lawson's attorney, Gabriel Biello, called Bean as a witness Sept. 10.
What happened next, says Professor Tung Yin, who teaches criminal law at Lewis & Clark Law School, was unusual.
On the advice of his attorney, Bean declined to respond to questions about his relationship with the young man who was the alleged victim in the Washington County case.
"I'm asserting my right under Article 12, section 1 of the Oregon Constitution and the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution not to answer any questions in this proceeding," Bean said, according to a tape of the hearing WW obtained from Washington County Circuit Court.
But because Bean told the court in advance he planned to assert his right to remain silent, he was allowed to respond to questions via telephone and outside the hearing of the jury.
"It's pretty rare for that privilege to be invoked," says Yin. "Many lawyers will never see it done."
The reason Bean was allowed to plead the Fifth outside the hearing of the jury is that under Oregon law, Yin says, a jury is not supposed to draw any "negative inference" from a witness declining to answer questions.
The day after Bean's telephone interview, the jury found Lawson not guilty.
Both the Lane and Washington county cases resulted from a 2014 investigation spurred by a WW cover story about Bean's troubled relationship with Lawson.
Derrick Ashton, Bean's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.