Saturday, November 28, 2020
Nov. 28, 2020

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Jury gets case of ex-religious leader accused of sex abuse

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury on Friday found a disgraced religious leader guilty of sexually abusing a former church member when she was a child.

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said 69-year-old Michael Sperou was convicted of two counts of first-degree sexual penetration of a person under the age of 12.

This is the second sexual abuse trial for Sperou, the guru of the North Clackamas Bible Community, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Sperou established the small nondenominational congregation in the 1980s and operated it out of two homes in Portland.

His 2015 conviction for sex crimes was tossed out by the Oregon Supreme Court, which concluded that witnesses in the original trial had improperly referred to the accuser as a victim. The court found that the reference may have undermined Sperou’s presumption of innocence and affected his right to a fair trial.

While Sperou has multiple accusers, only one woman’s currently fell within the statute of limitations.

Prosecutors described him as a serial child predator who exerted extraordinary control over day-to-day aspects of his followers’ lives.

Sperou’s defense lawyers argued that the woman in the case wasn’t credible and that her account was inconsistent but acknowledged that Sperou engaged in disturbing behavior with her.

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