A Lane County Circuit Court judge ruled this morning that Portland real-estate developer and Democratic Party activist Terry Bean will have to face trial for criminal charges that he sexually abused a teenage boy two years ago.
Lane County Circuit Court Judge Charles M. Zennache ruled that Bean will stand trial Aug. 11 for two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of sexual abuse in the third degree, a misdemeanor, involving a 15-year-old boy in 2013. Bean has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Zennache denied an effort by Bean to settle the case with a cash payment to the alleged victim. The judge said such a settlement sent a dangerous message in a sex-abuse case where the alleged victim was 15 years old.
"It sounds like kids are for purchase," Zennache said. "If you have enough money, you can buy sex with a minor. With regard to public policy, that's a line we can't cross."
Over the past two weeks, Bean has been seeking to dismiss the criminal charges because he has reached a settlement with his alleged victim, who now doesn't want to go forward with the case.
Bean appeared in person at today's hearing.
His attorney, Derek Ashton, argued that prosecutors had "grossly misrepresented" the facts surrounding Bean and his then-boyfriend, Kiah Lawson, having sex with the 15-year-old boy in Eugene in 2013. Ashton said the 15-year-old, now living in California, did not want to see Bean stand trial.
"What he is saying is the events leading up to the indictment were not meaningful in his life," Ashton said. "He wants the case to end now."
Neither side discussed the financial terms of the proposed settlement in open court.
A story in this week's edition of WW explained that the settlement Bean sought is called a civil compromise.
Such settlements are sometimes used in low-level criminal cases and require a judge's approval to have charges dismissed. It's rare for such settlements to win dismissal of felony sex abuse charges, especially involving minors.
"From the defendant's point of view, if you can get a dismissal of a charge quickly by paying the complaining party money or doing service or taking a class, then that's a home run," says longtime Portland defense attorney Alan Karpinski. "You can expect the district attorney to get in there and pound his shoe on the table."
In today's hearing, prosecutors from two counties portrayed Bean as a potential danger to more teenagers.
"According to our investigation, our belief is that this man has a history of abusing young boys right here in Lane County," said Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Scott Healy. "Our biggest concern is the ongoing public safety. The defendant travels a lot and has access to young boys."
Ashton tells WW those comments were incorrect.
"Terry Bean is innocent of these charges," Ashton says. "Nothing that transpired today changes that fact despite the prosecutor's attempts to color the proceedings. Terry looks forward to proving his innocence at trial."