For a third time, a jury has found an Oregon pastor, who sexually abused seven girls whose families attended his church, guilty of sex abuse.
On Friday, May 19, a jury in Multnomah County, Ore., unanimously found Michael Sperou, 72, pastor of North Clackamas Bible Community, guilty of two counts of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, The Oregonian informado.
Sperou, had been convicted of sex abuse twice before, in 2015 and 2020.
In 2015, Sperou was found guilty of two sex abuse charges against one of his victims. By the time of the trial, the statute of limitations had expired for six of the seven victims, though all seven testified in the trial.
Sperou was sentenced to 20 years in prison. But in 2019, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned his conviction, ruling that witnesses should not have been allowed to refer to Sperou’s accuser as a “victim” during the trial.
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In 2020, the court tried Sperou a second time. This time he was convicted by an 11-to-1 jury and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He also was ordered to pay his victim $70,000 in restitution.
However, later that same year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that guilty verdicts for serious crimes must be unanimous. This resulted in Sperou’s conviction being overturned once again.
The third and final trial took place May 8 -19 with the same prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judge as before.
Relieved and confident
Two of Sperou’s seven survivors are the daughters of a recent guest on El Informe Roys (TRR) podcast, Ken Garrett. Garret is author of In the House of Friends and pastor of Grace Church in Portland, Ore.
Garret told TRR he feels relieved, joyful, and confident that this time the conviction will “stick.”
“The two weeks of trial left us all spent and exhausted, but we’ve become pretty seasoned through past trials, and the girls have moved forward with their lives,” he said.
Garrett and his family were members of North Clackamas Bible Community (NCBC) in Portland for 12 years. During those years, Garrett said he gave up his career, wealth, and relationships to support the church and later discovered Sperou had sexually abused his two daughters.
In the episodes Escaping and Healing from Abusive Churches Parte 1 y Parte 2, Garrett shared his story and spoke about understanding and healing from abuse.
Garrett and prosecutors referred to NCBC as a cult for its abusive and controlling culture, which included communal living. Its core members share a network of rental homes straddling the city limits of Happy Valley and Portland. Sunday services, weekly bible studies, and language classes are all conducted in homes.
Former members told The Oregonian that sometimes they put entire families in single bedrooms with children living in closets. They said Sperou exercised absolute control over the food members ate, that he drank heavily and used drugs, and took as much as 25% of their incomes as a church tax.
On May 17, one of Garrett’s daughters posted a publicación de Facebook requesting prayers.
“Keep me and my family in your minds today!! Closing arguments in Michael Sperou’s third trial start after lunch,” it said.
Garrett told TRR in an update last Friday that the jury deliberated all afternoon the day before delivering the verdict.
The women who claimed Sperou abused them sat together at the trial and held hands as the court delivered the verdict, according to The Oregonian.
The case revealed deep and long-lasting division among the current and former families in Sperou’s church group. Some of the parents of the survivors still attend Sperou’s church, which still has a website, naming Sperou as senior pastor.
In the crowded courtroom, one of Sperou’s accusers sat alongside the other survivors, while her estranged parents sat across the aisle behind Sperou.
The mother of one survivor married Sperou after her daughter’s revelations became public. Michael Sperou’s wife, Judy Sperou, was in court on Friday, sitting opposite her daughter, who traveled from Boston to testify, even though the statute of limitations for her had passed.
Sperou’s supporters told The Oregonian in 2015 that nothing had fundamentally changed for the church after his conviction, and the accusers were disgruntled ex-members with axes to grind.
The church members said they were glad Sperou was detained at the nearby Oregon State Penitentiary, where they could easily visit him to exchange prayers and encouragement.
While the number of NCBC group members is unknown, the website features a photograph of 21 people.
TRR contacted North Clackamas Bible Community via its contact form for comment, but the church did not respond.
Garret said that each of the seven survivors are writing their own responses as victim impact statements at Sperou’s sentencing, which is set for June.
“Truth won,” he said. “At the end of the day, the truth is truth.”
Click below to listen to two podcast episodes related to this story.
Jessica Eturralde es una esposa militar de 18 años y madre de tres hijos que se desempeña como escritora independiente, presentadora de televisión y cineasta. Las firmas incluyen Yahoo, Huffington Post, OC16TV.
9 pensamientos sobre “Jury Finds Oregon Pastor Guilty of Sex Abuse in Third Trial”
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us,
what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” – 1Peter 4:17
I hope that this case inspires reform of Oregon’s statute(s) of limitations. That there IS one that applied to what was done to these girls is disturbing. Sexual crimes, especially involving children, should not have this potential “Get out of Jail Free” card.
However, since it does apply, I hope prosecutors are looking for more recent victims, because there’s no way this man has changed in the intervening years.
Amazing how this pedophile predator has the money to go to the Supreme Court twice…And as a Marriage and Family therapist, working with abuse victims all the time, it never ceases to amaze me how mothers will support the pedophile abuser over their own children. And yes, these abusers groom the adults and the children…but there will be a day of judgment for these mothers who choose to let their own neediness drive them to betray the mother-daughter/mother-child bond. Many mothers who were abused as children, yet they protected their own children – will be witnesses against these “mothers” who betray their daughters. Their testimonies will destroy any excuses these “mothers” have used to justify their denial and their loyalty to the pedophile abuser over their daughters.
I am convinced that those who are in ministry and use their position to abuse the vulnerable Do. Not. Believe. In. God.
Because they have no fear of him and do not take seriously the warnings in Scripture for those who do harm to the little ones.
They get up there Sunday after Sunday and manage to preach the word of God without believing a word of what they are preaching.
We can at the very least be assured that there is ultimate justice, and statutory limitations will not apply when it really counts.
Absolutely, I completely Agree. They’re the real atheists!
Utterly heartbreaking to read of those some beautiful daughters who were not believed by their own parents. So tragic beyond belief. Prayers for a community to be theirs to love and support them. And the courage of those who did speak out over 3 grueling trials! Amazing.
I hope the people that comment here that are not also survivors realize how much healing you provide here for survivors. After many years of therapy I find The Roys Report and all of the supportive people here a very special gift from God.
When will this nonsense among clergy members ceased? Aren’t we sick and tired reading about these kinds of shameful behavior amongst people who claim to be God-called Ministers? How does a 72 year old man make himself believe that it is okay to have sex with under-aged girls? What is wrong with him? On one hand, we have sick Ministers abusing young girls, and on the other hand, we have them abusing young boys. The holy name of Christ is being dragged through the dirt due to the perversion that is in some of the pulpits around the world! Shameful!!!
Oregon prides itself on how ‘progressive’ it is and yet has a very outdated law with respect to statute of limitations and child sexual abuse. That needs to be corrected.
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