Homosexual rights group's co-founder faces sex crimes charges

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Portland LGBT activist Terry Bean, 66, poses with U.S. President Barrack Obama. (Flickr/ Terry Bean) | (Flickr/ Terry Bean)

LANE COUNTY, Ore. (Christian Examiner) -- Major Democratic Party donor Terrence Bean, co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign, arguably the largest U.S. homosexual rights advocacy group, is scheduled for a Dec. 3 arraignment in Lane County, Oregon on child sex crimes.

The 66-year-old real estate developer will be responding to charges dating back to 2013 that involve a 15-year-old boy whose testimony helped lead to Bean's arrest Nov. 19.

The gay-rights activist called a "great friend and supporter" by Obama, and who reportedly raised more than half a million dollars for the President's 2012 re-election campaign, is now faced with a felony charge of sodomy and a misdemeanor count of sexual abuse with a juvenile male. In attempts to defend his reputation, Bean's Portland lawyer, Kristen Winemiller, issued a statement the day of arrest claiming Bean was the victim of extortion.

"Over the course of several months in 2013-14, Terry was the victim of an extortion ring led by several men known to law enforcement. This current arrest is connected to the ongoing investigation of that case in which Mr. Bean has fully cooperated," Winemiller said. "No allegations against Terry Bean should be taken at face value."

Also arrested in conjunction with this case was Beans ex-boyfriend Kiah Lawson, 25. According to The Oregonian it was Lawson who put police in contact with the teen who met the two men using the iPhone dating app "Grindr," a widely used, all-male, location-based social network. According to the website, more than 5 million men across the globe use the social network to find male companions.

Since the arrest, details about Bean and Lawson's relationship have surfaced that indicated the two men became involved in 2013 and had a turbulent affair in which Lawson claimed Bean secretly captured their sexual encounters on video. Earlier this year both parties filed for restraining orders against each other.

Throughout the media frenzy surrounding his sex crime charges, Bean has maintained his innocence and released a statement on Nov. 24.

"To my friends, please be aware that I am innocent of all these charges. My lawyers have insisted that the facts come out in the courtroom, and not in the press, but I am eager to share the truth and I am grateful for all of your support you have shown me during this time. Thanks, Terry."

The same day, the Washington, D.C. based Human Rights Campaign announced Bean would take voluntary leave from the organization's 80-member board until his case is resolved.

According to HRC spokesman Fred Sainz, Bean was not involved in the "daily oversight or responsibility" of any HRC programs.