After a prolonged five-year case, on June 2, SLO County Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera found Paso Robles resident Jason Robert Porter guilty of committing sexual acts on children and possession of child pornography.
- File Photo Courtesy Of The California Judicial Council
- CONVICTED Jason Porter was found guilty of over of committing sexual acts with children and posession of child pornography. Porter has over 30 victims; all underaged minors.
LaBarbera said the case was solidified after an 11-year-old victim gave her testimony against Porter on June 1—she was the last to testify during a two-week jury-less trial.
The victim, who was 4 years old at the time of her assault, testified that Porter had pulled down her pants and underwear and inappropriately touched her private parts while she was asleep in Porter's son's room.
LaBarbera said he believed the 11-year-old to be "very credible and mature in her testimony."
"I do see the parents here and I just want to let them know that if [she] were here, I'd tell her she's a brave survivor," he said.
Porter was arrested in 2016, when the girl's mother caught him taking photos under her child's dress.
He was released on bail only to be arrested two weeks later, after law enforcement served a search warrant at his home and electronic devices, seizing thousands of images and videos of Porter committing sexual acts with minors.
In charges filed in 2016, the SLO County District Attorney's Office identified four children between the ages of 4 and 7 at the time of their assault. Authorities eventually identified an additional 32 minors as victims.
During the trial, evidence showed that videos and photos were in folders that were often labeled with the names of Porter's victims. Evidence also showed video footage from a hidden video camera that Porter had installed in one of the bathrooms of his parents' Paso Robles home, where he lived and friends and family regularly gathered for pool parties. The hidden camera footage captured adults and minors.
LaBarbera said the videos were graphic and "hard to watch."
In many of the videos, Porter's face was visible or his voice was immediately recognizable. In the videos and photos where Porter isn't visible, SLO County District Attorney Deputy Melissa Chabra said she found consistency with a brown couch, a specific carpet pattern, and a silver watch that belonged to Porter and was in his residence at the time.
"I have no problem finding beyond reasonable doubt that he is the perpetrator of each of these offenses and that he took these videos and photographs, and then, of course, we do have a couple of counts involving surreptitious photos sometimes with adults and sometimes with minors," LaBarbera said.
Porter was originally charged with and pleaded not guilty to 17 felony counts of committing sexual acts on a child and possession of child pornography and 41 misdemeanor charges of invasion of privacy for the bathroom video camera.
Chabra, representing the prosecution, dropped some of the misdemeanor charges.
LaBarbera found Porter guilty of all felony charges except for the accusation of producing child pornography. He said he believed Porter had possession of the child pornography so he could "look at it over and over again" and did not believe Porter had it for commercial purposes.
Porter will be sentenced on June 28 and is facing life in prison.
The victims' attorney, Greg Gillet, said "justice was served" in a statement.
"The victims in this matter were and are children. They have not only had to live through the heinous acts undertaken by Mr. Porter, but they also have had to live under the shadow of a pending trial for almost five years. Mr. Porter has stolen a time of their lives that should have been filled with love and trust. However, like the victim who testified in court showed yesterday, they are resilient and strong. They will not be defined by this episode. They, with love and support of their families and their communities, will overcome," the June 2 statement said.
The families of the victims ask for continued prayers for all of the victims and their ongoing recovery.
Tina Swithin, Porter's former sister-in-law, told New Times that he was a point of contention during the custody battle over her daughters because she did not trust having her children around him.
Swithin said her ex-husband, Damien Porter, was initially in agreement with her. In a July 2008 email submitted into court records, Damien emailed his mother saying Porter needed counseling for his behavior. However, during the custody battle from 2009 to 2014, Damien advocated that his brother be able to see their daughters during holidays.
Damien told New Times that he didn't want to comment on his brother's case.
In a 2011 deposition, court records show that Swithin asked the court to deny her ex-husband's request to allow Porter to see his daughters.
"The reality is, the majority of my entire family court battle was trying to protect my daughters from [Jason Porter]," Swithin said.
Ultimately, Swithin gained full custody of her children but said when she tried to warn the court of the "dangerous person" Porter was, she felt the family court system did not listen to her. Δ