Christian Leader Did Touch Girls, Police Say
Lawsuit - Lou Beres Told Gresham Detectives That He Acted Inappropriately with Three Teens, the Report Says
By Jeff Mapes
The Oregonian [Oregon]
August 16, 2006
Lou Beres, longtime leader of the Oregon Christian Coalition, told police that he had sexually touched three underage girls years ago, according to a newly released report from the Gresham Police Department.
Beres denied allegations of sexual molestation when they first came to light in The Oregonian last October. Gresham police last fall investigated allegations Beres had molested underage family members, but Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Shrunk said the allegations occurred so long ago that Beres couldn't face charges under the statute of limitations.
In March, Beres, 70, was sued in Multnomah County Circuit Court for $2.1 million by a relative who said he molested her repeatedly between 1963 and 1966.
Beres didn't return a phone call Tuesday. His attorney, John Kaempf, said the statements attributed to Beres by the police were not accurate.
Last fall, Beres said he would withdraw from public life while he fought the allegations. However, as late as last week, records show that he signed a $50 check on the Oregon Christian Coalition checking account to renew the group's business registration with the state.
When asked about Beres' relationship with the Oregon Christian Coalition, Kaempf said Beres would ask the coalition -- which is now largely inactive -- to "file the necessary paperwork with the state to formalize Mr. Beres' resignation as its chairman."
The Gresham police report was released because of the lawsuit. It recites two conversations Beres had with police investigators after being told they were looking at allegations past the statute of limitations.
Beres "readily admitted sexually touching" the plaintiff in the lawsuit when she was 13 or 14 years old, according to the report. He also acknowledged sexually touching a 16 or 17-year-old friend of his daughter in 1976 or 1977.
In a later telephone call with an investigator, "he made admissions to three separate victims at three different times," the police report said. "All involved underage females. The offenses ranged from kissing to touching the breast of an underage girl.
"(Beres) identified the victims as his sister-in-law and two friends of his daughters," said one of the investigators, Detective Lee Gosson of Multnomah County Sheriff's Department. "It should be noted that Mr. Beres said his activities with the girls were in a playful fashion. I told him that the acts were sexual and he agreed."
Beres told police that he had received counseling through his church and admitted his mistakes years ago, according to the report. However, other relatives expressed concern to police that the abuse continued for several years through more than one generation of the family, according to the report. Kaempf said that in addition to disputing the statements in the police report, Beres also denied the allegations in the lawsuit. A hearing is scheduled next month on a motion by Kaempf to dismiss the lawsuit.
The Oregonian is not naming the plaintiff in the lawsuit because the paper generally does not identify people who allege they are victims of sexual assault.
Michele Combs, spokeswoman for the national office of the Christian Coalition, said Tuesday that she would check on Beres' status with the group but didn't provide an answer and couldn't be reached in subsequent phone calls.
The Oregon Christian Coalition shut its office last year and does not appear to have any paid staff here. Tim Nashif of the Oregon Family Council, another conservative Christian group, said the coalition is "not doing anything" in the state as far as he can see.
At one time, Beres had been active in state Republican circles and was on the central committee. However, he backed losing candidates for chairman at least three times, and Nashif said Beres got almost no support when he tried to win a seat on the Republican National Committee.
Jeff Mapes: 503-221-8209; email@example.com
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