One year ago, Terry Bean, a prominent Portland businessman and national gay-rights leader, was indicted for sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy, charges that could have landed him behind bars.
It was a humbling development for Bean, best known for co-founding the Human Rights Campaign and for his prodigious fundraising on behalf of the Democratic Party.
The indictment followed WW's publication of a cover story ("Terry Bean's Problem," WW, June 4, 2014), detailing a dispute between Bean and his former boyfriend, Kiah Lawson. Bean told the Multnomah County district attorney that Lawson and others were trying to extort money from him.
Bean's complaint led to a six-month police investigation that ironically turned up allegations against him. Most damaging were police interviews with Lawson, now 26, and a teenager who told police that, at age 15, he had a 2013 sexual encounter with Bean and Lawson in Eugene.
A Lane County judge dismissed the case Sept. 1, after the alleged victim refused to testify. Prosecutors expressed frustration, noting that Bean had earlier offered the alleged victim a substantial payment if he agreed to drop the charges.
After the dismissal, Bean, now 67, said justice had been served.
"I was falsely accused and completely innocent of every accusation that was made," Bean said in a Sept. 1 statement. "I look forward to being able to tell the story of this conspiracy of lies, deceit, blackmail, malicious prosecution and homophobia now that this case has ended."
In the two months that have passed, Bean has not yet chosen to tell his story, although cases related to the original investigation continue. (In October, a Washington County jury found Lawson not guilty of sexually abusing a different underage boy; later this month, another man, John Ivie, will face similar charges.)
But new information has emerged about the 2013 events in Eugene.
Transcripts of police interviews with Lawson and the alleged victim shed light on a central question in the case against Bean: whether he knew the teenager he and Lawson picked up for a sexual encounter was under 18.
Both Lawson and the alleged victim told police Bean did know.
WW sought the interview transcripts as public records, but when police rejected that request, we obtained them from another source. (Read the full transcripts in the links below.)
Lawson has a checkered past. He has a criminal record for theft and assault and a history of meth use, and admitted to police that he stole money and other items from Bean.
But the transcript of Lawson's interview with Portland police Det. Jeff Myers shows he provided an account that not only incriminated himself—thereby adding weight to his description of events—but also was nearly identical to the alleged victim's account.
Lawson said he and Bean traveled to Eugene for a Sept. 28, 2013, University of Oregon Ducks football game against California.
The night before the game, Lawson told police, he contacted the young man, then a high-school sophomore, on Grindr, a hook-up app for gay men. At about 10 pm Sept. 27, Bean and Lawson pulled up to a Eugene 7-Eleven in Bean's black Mercedes S500.
Soon after the young man got in the car, Lawson said, Bean asked him how old he was.
Lawson said the young man stumbled initially, then said he was 16, an answer Bean didn't like.
"Terry like, coached him to say, like, he was like, 'Wait, so how old are you?' And he said '16' three more times," Lawson told Myers, according to the July 3, 2014, interview transcript. "And he's like, 'No, no, no,' like, 'You don't get it. Like, how old are you?'"
"Who's saying no? Myers asked Lawson.
"Terry," Lawson replied.
"He's like, 'We can't do this unless you tell me how old you are. Unless you really tell me how old you are,'" Lawson said. "And then, the kid's like, 'Oh, OK. I get it. I'm 18.'"
Lawson was charged alongside Bean with having sex with the young man. (Charges against Lawson were also dismissed Sept. 1.)
The young man, whose name WW is withholding because he's the alleged victim of a sex crime, spoke to Myers on July 26, 2014.
"Was it your impression that, that the, the older person [Bean] or the younger person [Lawson] knew that you were under 18?" Myers asked.
"Yes," the young man said.
Prosecutors said the young man's description of the evening, which he repeated in front of a grand jury, was key to the indictment. He told his story a third time in an Aug. 13, 2015, interview with Lane County chief deputy district attorney Erik Hasselman.
"The victim confirmed with me that his testimony to that grand jury was truthful," Hasselman said in a statement.
Yet the alleged victim refused to testify in court—fleeing his home in San Diego with his mother via Amtrak, renting a car in Oregon, and purchasing "burner" cellphones, in what prosecutors described as an effort to run out the clock on a subpeona.
His flight followed an offer by Bean to end the case with a so-called "civil compromise," in which Bean would pay the young man $225,000 and avoid a criminal trial. Bean also agreed to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and share the results of that test with the young man's attorney.
The judge rejected the proposed compromise. The alleged victim's subsequent refusal to testify left the case in limbo: The judge dismissed charges, but prosecutors could file again if the alleged victim changes his mind.
Bean's attorney declined to comment.