A pastor in Oregon is expected to go to trial 18 years after raping and sexually abusing at least seven women. According to local media reports, prosecutors re-examined complaints against Mike Sperou that claimed he had raped at least seven women when they were minors, during the 1990s.
According to the seven women, Sperou had transformed Southeast Bible Church, which probably started out with good intentions, into a cult that resulted in the breakdown of its members’ families. They claimed Sperou, who said he had been emotionally scarred during his childhood as well as the Vietnam War, indulged in drug abuse and heavy drinking before beginning to sexually abuse children inside the church.
Reportedly, Sperou confessed to the police in 1997 that he urged women, all of whom were under 12 years of age at the time, to stay with him in bed at his own home but he denied raping any of them, clarifying though that he may have put his hands inside their underwear or shirts from time to time. He also denied charges of having penetrated a girl with his fingers while she was asleep. The victims said they felt obligated to comfort Sperou because of his alleged emotional scarring and also because their parents revered the pastor. However, after Sperou started to touch their genitals on a regular basis and masturbate while holding them, the victims decided to open up to their parents about the abuse.
At that time, prosecutors told the complainants that their allegations did not match up to the existing “winnability” standards, which is why the case against Sperou was eventually dropped. The women also said they had not opened up to the prosecutors completely because they felt a need to protect Sperou.
Now, in their late 20s and 30s, seven of the victims have come together to convince the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to review the case, saying they are ready to offer additional input if that would help substantiate the loopholes.
“It says so much that they would put themselves through this process again,” Portland police Detective Heidi Helwig told the media. “Why would anybody do that? They are amazing, articulate women who have survived and grown, except for that big hole where justice was never served.”
The prosecutor found that the statute of limitations had expired on most of the claims though three allegations made by 28-year-old Shannon Clark were still valid. Sperou has now been charged with three counts of unlawful sexual penetration of a minor, though defense lawyers have said the latest allegations are dated and they would ask for the case to be dismissed immediately.
His trial is set to begin on February 13.
Photo Credits: KOIN TV