Former Oregon pastor found guilty in third trial of sex abuse case

Michael Sperou, jail booking photo
Michael Sperou, jail booking photo(KPTV)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 12:43 PM PDT
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MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. (KPTV) - A former pastor in Oregon who repeatedly sexually abused seven young girls whose families were members of the church was found guilty in a new trial, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

Michael Sperou, 72, was found guilty by a jury on Friday of two counts of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration. This was his third trial for the sexual abuse case.

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According to the district attorney’s office, Sperou’s crimes took place from 1988-1996 when he was a pastor. By the time the case went to trial, charges related to six of the seven girls who reported sexual abuse fell outside the statute of limitations.

The first trial took place in 2015. All seven women were allowed to testify based on the recently decided State v. Williams case, according to the district attorney’s office.

Sperou was convicted in 2015 on all counts of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration. However, in 2019, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned the convictions, finding the use of the word “victim” by witnesses was impermissible.

The district attorney’s office says Sperou was tried again in 2020. The primary victim, whose charges fell within the statute of limitations, testified. The district attorney’s office said the “other six women remained committed to pursuing prosecution during the second trial, and some were allowed to testify about specific incidents of abuse.”

At the end of the second trial, the jury delivery a 11-1 guilty verdict. However, later in 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that guilty verdicts must be unanimous in trials for serious crimes. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the ruling applies retroactively, which led to a third trial for Sperou.

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The third trial took place from May 8 - May 19 of this year. The guilty verdict was read on Friday, May 19.

The district attorney’s office said Sperou is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20.