EUGENE, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Portland political activist and prominent gay rights leader Terry Bean faced a judge for the first time Wednesday regarding accusations he sexually abused a 15-year-old last year and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Bean, 66, was arraigned Wednesday morning in Eugene. Both he and his ex-boyfriend, 25-year-old Kiah Lawson, were arrested last month and charged with two counts of third-degree sodomy and one count of third-degree sexual abuse.
Lawson pleaded not guilty to all counts in late November.
In a statement, Bean’s attorney Kristen Winemiller said, “Terry absolutely did not have sex with a minor. As we’ve said before the circumstances behind this are not what they appear to be. Terry Bean is a principled and esteemed citizen of the state … He’s eager to share the truth with the public and with all of his supporters. He has been the victim of a series of crimes perpetrated by a group of men that include his so-called ex partner and now co-defendent Kiah Lawson.
“Out of respect for the court today we will not comment on the specifics, but we are eager for the opportunity to represent the facts to the court and we look forward to clearing Terry’s name.”
A chain of restraining orders filed by both Bean and Lawson suggest a violent end to the pair’s relationship, and both men’s friends and family claim they have been made the victim.
Sources close to the investigation said at the time of the arrests the burst of violence stemmed from Lawson’s discovery of a hidden camera in Bean’s Southwest Portland home. Lawson then allegedly tried to extort Bean, according to the source.
Investigators are also looking into the possibility of more underage abuse. Bean’s longtime neighbor Jeff Warila reported seeing him bring younger-looking men to his condo, and while he never saw anyone “under duress,” Warila said he wasn’t surprised by the charges.
Since his arrest, Bean has received steady backing from many in Portland’s gay community. Fellow activist Bill Dickey said in a Nov. 19 Facebook post that his “instinct is to remain loyal” to Bean.
Bean, who helped found Human Rights Campaign, has since stepped away from the organization until the criminal proceedings conclude.
Free on bail, Bean is next due in court Jan. 7.