Six months after his arrest at the June 10 World Naked Bike Ride through downtown Portland, cyclist Reverend Phil Sano is facing up to two and a half years in prison if he's found guilty on four charges. His trial begins on Wednesday, December 13.
What did Sano do during a quirky bike event to face such a steep sentence? On the night of the ride, Sano—sans clothes—was stopping traffic so several hundred naked bikers could pass through intersections together. When bikers wanted to turn onto W Burnside from NW 3rd, Sano stopped Burnside's auto traffic. A car at the front of the pack, however, apparently didn't appreciate Sano's move.
"I pulled up to the car and I tried to explain that we are moving through the intersection and we will be out of her way very shortly," Sano says. The driver—a woman in her 30s—revved her engine, Sano says. "I stood in front of her SUV to keep her from harming the other bikers. She was screaming all sorts of expletives at me, threatening me, but barely making sense." Sano believes the driver was drunk or otherwise impaired.
"Then she drove right at me. I was knocked back and my bike was run over," Sano says. The driver's passenger, off-duty Portland Police Officer Chadd Stensgaard, called the police and tackled Sano, according to the cyclist.
Now, Sano is facing four misdemeanor charges—one for indecent exposure, thanks to the naked part of the ride, and one for having an open container of alcohol—there was an empty beer can on his bike, which Sano says was from the night before. He's also charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. "I'm surprised they're taking this to trial, because they're going to be embarrassed," Sano tells the Mercury.
Sano is fighting the charges, with help from a pro bono attorney and volunteer investigators.