The attorney defending prominent Democratic fundraiser Terry Bean against sexual abuse charges is under criminal investigation in the same case for alleged conduct that includes bribery and witness tampering, a Lane County prosecutor revealed during a court hearing earlier this month.
Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman made the extraordinary disclosure in a hearing on June 4, according to a court recording of the proceeding obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
In the latest development in the long and sordid case, Hasselman told Judge Charles Zennache that authorities are investigating the role that Bean’s lawyer, Derek Ashton, played in the events leading up to the collapse of the state’s original sex abuse case against Bean in 2015.
That prosecution fell apart when the alleged victim refused to testify. He was 15 at the time of the alleged abuse. In a subsequent lawsuit, young man, now in his 20s, said he was offered money to stay away from court.
Lane County has since refiled the sex abuse case against Bean and this year began an investigation into the payment.
Hasselman said Portland police Detective Jeff Myers is leading the investigation into Ashton’s activity. Hasselman’s allegations were first reported by Willamette Week.
Statements that the alleged victim and his mother made to Myers implicate Ashton and two other lawyers in crimes that include witness tampering, bribing the witness and “perhaps money laundering,” Hasselman said.
One of the other lawyers Hasselman referenced is Lori Deveny, who represented the alleged victim in 2015 and is now facing a series of criminal charges related to her alleged defrauding of clients for nearly a decade. Hasselman didn’t identify the third lawyer in the investigation.
During his statement to the court, Hasselman acknowledged the remarkable nature of his disclosure and said he had no choice but to divulge the ongoing investigation because he needed to explain his delay in turning over investigative materials to Bean’s defense team.
“I am tipping a lot of my hand here,” Hasselman told the judge. “I recognize that and I didn’t want to be forced to be in that position, but I am forced to be in this position because I do owe not only a duty to the defendant and the current prosecution, but I certainly own an obligation of candor to the court.”
Ashton didn’t respond to the allegations during the hearing. On Thursday, his lawyer, Arden Olson, said in an email that “there is no formal allegation” against his client.
“We question the motivation, timing, and credibility of the prosecutor’s statements,” Olson said in the email.
In a separate email to The Oregonian/OregonLive, Ashton accused Hasselman of character assassination that is intended to disqualify him from representing Bean.
“I expect a higher degree of professionalism and the public should expect that as well,” Ashton said. “While I am prepared to defend Terry Bean on the merits of the charges against him, the statements of the prosecutor, without any credible basis, appear designed only to deprive my client of his constitutional right to counsel of his choosing.”
Ashton added: “The prosecutor’s grandstanding calls into question the merits of his case and appears to be a sideshow intended to justify his failure to produce the evidence the court now has compelled the prosecutor to turn over.”
Hasselman said he plans to submit the findings of the investigation to the Oregon State Bar and has asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office if it wants to get involved in the case. He also said the statute of limitations may affect whether he can file charges against Ashton.
During the investigation, Hasselman said he took the rare step of obtaining a search warrant for “all of the devices” of an unidentified attorney. He said evidence from those searches confirmed “that collusion was occurring between Mr. Ashton and Ms. Deveny that the alleged victim was not aware of.”
Wayne Mackeson, a criminal defense lawyer who represents Deveny, didn’t respond to an email Thursday seeking comment.
“I have probable cause to believe, as does Detective Myers, that Mr. Ashton committed violations of the penal code, specifically tampering with a witness and bribing a witness based on the information I have developed both from the alleged victim and collateral sources, including evidence that’s been seized in the case, including communications of Mr. Ashton’s,” Hasselman said during the hearing.
Lane County prosecutors refiled the sex abuse case against Bean earlier this year. A grand jury indicted him on two counts of felony sodomy and one count of sex abuse, a misdemeanor, for allegedly having sex with a child under age 16. The 70-year-old real estate developer has pleaded not guilty.
The case stems from a 2013 encounter when authorities say Bean and a former boyfriend, Kiah Loy Lawson, 29, allegedly had sex with the 15-year-old boy at a Eugene hotel.
Prosecutors this year also refiled the case against Lawson; he faces the same charges as Bean and has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for September.
During the hearing this month, Hasselman said the alleged victim’s current lawyers, Sean Riddell and Christine Mascal, obtained Deveny’s Oregon State Bar file, which showed the day after the state’s 2015 case fell apart, Bean signed an agreement with the man and agreed to pay him $200,000.
The alleged payments came after a Lane County judge already had turned down a civil compromise in the case — a legal maneuver allowed in Oregon when a defendant offers a remedy that typically involves money to an injured party to settle the case without a conviction.
The man said Bean offered him the money anyway, according to the $6 million lawsuit he filed this year. He’s identified only by initials in the suit. The Oregonian/OregonLive generally doesn’t identify alleged victims in sex crime cases.
The lawsuit says the man received only $5,000 from Bean and that Deveny never gave him the remaining $215,000 that Bean paid Deveny.
The suit alleges that Deveny and Ashton arranged to pay the victim $20,000 “for the sole purpose” of leaving town to avoid testifying at trial.
The lawsuit also alleges that a third lawyer, Deanna Wray, “participated in a plan to conceal either plaintiff or another key witness from the Lane County District Attorney’s Office” to keep the person from appearing at trial.
Wray didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
— Noelle Crombie
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