Portland State Professor On Paid Leave After Being Charged with 35 Counts of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse

According to court records, the allegations date back to October 2017 and span a full year, to September 2018.

A Portland State University chemistry professor was placed on paid leave after being arrested for 35 criminal charges related to encouraging child sex abuse that stem from allegations that he distributed and viewed child pornography.

Niles Lehman, who has a Ph.D. from UCLA, was arrested on Feb. 21, according to court records.

According to a Portland State tweet from 2018, he was recognized as the 2018 Oregon Scientist of the Year by the Oregon Academy of Science for research related to the origins of life on Earth.

Lehman faces 35 charges laid out in an extensive indictment. Twenty-nine charges allege he "did unlawfully and knowingly develop, duplicate, publish, print, disseminate, exchange, display, finance, attempt to finance, and sell a visual recording of sexually explicit conduct involving a child." The other six charges allege he possessed or viewed child pornography.

According to court records, the allegations date back to October 2017 and span a full year, to September 2018.

WW reached out to Lehman, but did not immediately receive a response to requests for comment on the allegations. Lehman's attorney referred inquiries to PSU's communications team.

"Portland State University has confirmed that Niles Lehman, a PSU faculty member, is on paid leave," says PSU spokesman Kenneth Ma. "It's certainly upsetting that there are accusations that a PSU employee engaged in illegal and improper conduct, which is reflected in the charges against Professor Lehman. PSU is very concerned about the charges and will fully cooperate with the investigation."

Lehman posted bail and was released under supervision, although the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office filed a report with the court saying the Close Street supervision program could only provide "limited office-based supervision" because of a heavy case load and reductions in staffing.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.