US: Gay rights pioneer pleads not guilty to sex abuse charge

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An influential gay rights activist with ties to Barack Obama has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy.

Terry Bean is a gay rights pioneer who co-founded a number of groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and the National Gay Games, and the LGBT for Obama campaign.

The 66-year-old – who is said to be a close personal friend of Mr Obama – was arrested last month by the Sex Crimes unit in Portland, Oregon, over allegations that he and his partner had sex with a minor.

Appearing in court for the first time today, Terry Bean pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Attorney Kristen Winemiller said: “Terry absolutely did not have sex with a minor. As we’ve said before the circumstances behind this are not what they appear to be.

“Terry Bean is a principled and esteemed citizen of the state. He’s eager to share the truth with the public and with all of his supporters.

“He has been the victim of a series of crimes perpetrated by a group of men that include his so-called ex partner and now co-defendant Kiah Lawson.

“Out of respect for the court today we will not comment on the specifics, but we are eager for the opportunity to represent the facts to the court and we look forward to clearing Terry’s name.”

The Human Rights Campaign said he has taken a “leave of absence” from their board in order to fight the charges.

He is next due in court on January 7.