Prominent gay rights activist and political donor Terry Bean was arrested Wednesday, Oct. 30, as was his former lawyer, Derek Ashton, in connection with allegations of bribing a witness in a 2015 sex abuse case.
Ashton, a former Multnomah prosecutor whose past clients include former Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea, was booked at 9:09 a.m. Oct. 30, into Multnomah County jail. Bean was booked at 4:08 p.m. Both arrests came in connection with a Lane County warrant on suspicion of violating Oregon's computer crime statute, according to interviews and county records.
The new allegations, which were not initially filed publicly in court, appear to concern a $220,000 settlement that followed the implosion of Lane County's prosecution of Bean over an alleged hotel-room encounter with a 15-year-old boy in Eugene. The case collapsed when the victim could not be located to testify.
Portland police have been working with the Lane County district attorney to investigate whether Ashton, now a prominent Portland defense lawyer, paid the victim in Bean's case to make it go away.
After the alleged victim resurfaced late last year, Portland police reopened the criminal investigation of Bean, which led to new charges against him in Lane County. Ashton, who defended Bean in both prosecutions, has denied wrongdoing by either one of the two men. He recently was replaced as Bean's attorney by Steve Sherlag, another Portland lawyer.
Under the computer crime statute underlying the arrests, any use of a computer for "devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud" is a Class C felony. Cases involving fraud can enjoy a six-year statute of limitations, whereas the ability to prosecute over bribing a witness ends three years after the crime.
Ashton also faces an ethics probe opened Sept. 4 by the organization that oversees lawyers, the Oregon State Bar.
The collapse of the 2015 prosecution of Bean has long fueled suspicions in legal circles. It came after a judge rejected a proposed civil compromise in which Bean would have paid the alleged victim $220,000 to make the criminal charges go away.
Bean paid the victim anyway, ostensibly to settle a potential lawsuit. While a civil compromise is legal in certain types of criminal cases in Oregon if a judge approves it, bribing a witness is a crime.
In late August, court documents were filed alleging new evidence showed the appearance of bribery and what appeared to be a close collaboration between Bean's lawyer, Derek Ashton, and the lawyer for the alleged victim, known as "M.S.G.," to keep him from testifying in a 2015 trial.
"Let's finish these guys," Ashton wrote to M.S.G.'s then-lawyer on the brink of a hearing in an Aug. 26, 2015, text message, according to court records.
To preevnt police tracking down the alleged victim for purposes of making him testify in the 2015 case, M.S.G.'s lawyer, Lori Deveny, worked with her friend, Deanna Wray, to hide him in Wray's family cabin in a remote location in Oregon, according to an affidavit. The effort involved a "burner" cell phone and the disabling of a rental car's "LoJack" tracking device.
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