Lawyers for Terry Bean, the Portland real estate developer accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy in Eugene in 2013, have asked a judge to dismiss the long-running case, citing the lead detective’s alleged destruction of evidence and his alleged bias against members of the LGBTQ community and Bean.
Jeff Myers, who retired from the Portland Police Bureau in January, destroyed months of text messages that should have been shared with the defense team under state law, said Tiffany Harris, one of Bean’s lawyers.
Myers had exchanged the texts with Jeffrey Dickey, the lawyer for Bean’s former boyfriend Kiah Lawson. Lawson was a co-defendant in the case and initially raised the allegations against Bean through Dickey.
Bean, a well-known gay rights activist and prominent Democratic fundraiser for years, is president of Bean Investment Real Estate based in downtown Portland and owner of more than 6,000 multifamily property units in the western United States, according to his company’s website.
It’s not the first time Myers has been accused of suppressing key evidence in a sexual misconduct investigation.
In 2011, a Multnomah County judge declared a mistrial in a sex abuse case after learning Myers had withheld numerous recorded phone calls, including one that he admitted he “scrubbed.” It had shown the alleged victim in the case made unfounded claims of abuse against others in the past. The defendant was later acquitted in a second trial, largely due to the previously suppressed evidence.
In the Bean case, the missing texts between Myers and Dickey were exchanged between June 2014 and early November 2014 -- a critical period when Dickey was trying to secure immunity for his client after implicating Bean in the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, according to the motion to dismiss the case.
Myers never disclosed that he had exchanged text messages with Dickey until Bean’s prior defense team asked for them during discovery in 2015.
Myers then said the texts had been destroyed months earlier by accident when he handed in his police-issued Motorola cellphone for replacement, according to court records.
Bean’s lawyers contend the detective gave “implausible explanations under oath” for how the text messages disappeared.
Myers claimed in sworn testimony that the Police Bureau had no system at the time to transfer electronic evidence between phones and “everything on the old phone was destroyed.”
He further testified that once he realized the text messages had been lost, he went to the city’s Bureau of Emergency Communications on Nov. 6, 2014, “to try to recover them” but was told they no longer existed. He testified that the communications bureau maintained and replaced officers’ phones.
But when Bean’s current defense lawyers issued a subpoena to the communications bureau for records on the replacement of Myers’ phone, they were told the communications bureau has never been involved in managing police cellphones, doesn’t keep any documents on police cellphones and has no custodial role involving police cellphones.
Harris said Myers intentionally worked to keep the text messages out of view and then offered a bogus explanation of how they were lost.
“His claim that he engaged in heroics to try to recapture the text messages after they were destroyed is thoroughly debunked by subpoenaed records and by his own behavior,” Harris wrote in the motion.
He never took the basic step of trying to retrieve the messages from Dickey’s phone or ordering them from his cellphone carrier, Bean’s lawyers argue.
The messages could have provided a “real time account” of any benefit that one of Bean’s accusers, Lawson, hoped to gain from implicating Bean, according to Harris.
Bean’s lawyers argue that only a dismissal can address the serious violation and Bean’s right to a fair trial.
The text messages, now nearly seven years later, would provide “the only contemporaneous record of Myers’ investigation known to the defense,” Harris wrote.
Myers, reached by phone, declined any comment about the allegations and referred all questions to the Lane County prosecutor handling Bean’s case.
Lane County Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman said the state will respond to the allegations about Myers in court but “takes factual exception” to the defense lawyers’ contentions in the motion to dismiss.
“We do not believe any action or circumstance has occurred in the case that deserves or requires the dismissal of charges against Terrence Bean for his conduct with an LGBTQ youth,” Hasselman wrote in an email. “The victim youth also has rights in this process, which these motions seek to eliminate by attacking police conduct.’’
Bean’s lawyers also point to Myers’ retirement two days after he was notified that he would likely face discipline for making inappropriate comments about transgender people, according to Police Bureau records.
The bureau recommended Myers face a one-week suspension without pay after sustaining allegations of bias against Myers, but he left Jan. 31 before facing the discipline, according to police records.
Internal affairs reports obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive describe the comments.
Two newly hired officers who were helping Myers go over video from protests in a bureau computer lab told investigators that Myers referred to a transgender person, a suspect in an alleged arson, as “it,” the reports said.
One of the new officers said Myers made the reference out loud so everyone could hear, including an officer who is transgender, according to the reports.
Myers said he didn’t remember saying that, but investigators found the new officers’ accounts credible, according to the police records.
Another newly hired officer also reported that Myers said he didn’t agree with gender-neutral bathrooms while a transgender officer was present.
Bean’s lawyers also have alleged in court documents that Myers used a homophobic slur when talking about Bean, but further details are sealed in the court record.
The motion to dismiss the case against Bean will be heard Nov. 23 in Lane County Circuit Court.
Bean, 73, is set for trial on Jan. 11.
He’s accused of picking up a 15-year-old boy in his Mercedes S500 from a 7-Eleven in Eugene in September 2013 after Lawson met the teen who was posing as an adult on Grindr, an online dating app for gay men.
Police and prosecutors have alleged Bean and Lawson drove the teenager to a Eugene motel room, sexually abused him, showered with him and then sent him home in a cab. At the time, Lawson was 24 and Bean was 65.
Bean has said in court documents that Lawson made the allegations after Bean ended their romantic relationship, evicted Lawson from a condominium he owned and resisted an attempt by Lawson and Dickey to extract a $40,000 settlement from him.
In 2019, a Lane County judge sentenced Lawson to two years in prison for sexually abusing the 15-year-old.
The victim testified that both Bean and Lawson had picked him up, drove him to their motel room and engaged in various sex acts with him. A jury found Lawson guilty of felony third-degree sodomy and misdemeanor third-degree sexual abuse.
-- Maxine Bernstein
Email [email protected]; 503-221-8212
Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian
Source : https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/2021/10/lawyers-for-portland-developer-terry-bean-cite-alleged-misconduct-by-lead-detective-urge-dismissal-of-sex-abuse-charges.html1491