PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a pastor sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in prison in a sex abuse case after finding that witnesses in testimony improperly referred to the accuser as a victim.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the court found Thursday the term may have undermined Michael Sperou’s presumption of innocence and affected his right to a fair trial.
During the trial, the witnesses called by Multnomah County prosecutors included the woman Sperou was charged with abusing as a child, six other women who accused him of abuse, detectives and others.
The court says detectives and at least one former church member referred to the women as victims.
Sperou was a co-founder and pastor of the North Clackamas Bible Community in Happy Valley. He denied any abuse occurred and said the accusations were lies that followed a split in the church.