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Paso Robles man found guilty on 52 counts in child sex crimes case

Jason Porter was first arrested in 2016
Posted at 9:20 AM, Jun 02, 2021

The northern San Luis Obispo County man arrested nearly five years ago and charged with dozens of child sex crimes was found guilty Wednesday on 52 of the charges against him, including 16 felony counts and 36 misdemeanors.

Jason Porter waived the right to a jury trial, so San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Barry T. LaBarbera made the final ruling.

Porter was found not guilty on just one count, which the judge attributed to lack of evidence.

A few other charges were dismissed.

Sentencing is set for June 28. He faces life behind bars.

Porter, who was being held on $7 million bail, was ordered to return to jail without bail.

The now 49-year-old was first arrested in June 2016 for possession of child pornography and lewd acts with a child under the age of 14.

That investigation led to a search warrant that was served at his home where dozens of electronic devices and cameras were seized.

Police say thousands of pictures and videos of suspected child pornography were discovered, including some that investigators say appeared to have been manufactured by Porter.

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office says the evidence presented at trial showed Porter "sexually abused four female child victims between the ages of 1 and 13 and videotaped 36 victims without their knowledge."

Porter, from Paso Robles, was re-arrested and bail set at $7 million and by April 2017, had 59 charges and two enhancements filed against him.

The crimes occurred between February 2008 and June 2016.

Porter’s six-day trial began last week. He faces a more than 300-year sentence.

During closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, defense attorneys argued that in at least one case, Porter was simply helping a little girl take a bath. The prosecution countered, saying there was clear evidence in the video of a sexual motive.

While his case has made its way through the court system, Porter has had numerous attorneys and at one time, even represented himself.

“This was an over five-year matter. People were waiting for five years for justice to be served and today, justice was served. I think relief in the victims’ hearts is something we’ve been looking for and that happened today," the attorney for some of the victims, Gregory Gillett, said. "This is closure and we’re happy with closure from that extent. I know the mothers of these victims are extraordinarily happy with the result and again, it’s been a trying five years but they’ll definitely move forward, they’ll be strong and they’ll take what they’ve learned from this and they’ll grow to be strong, strong young women."

Porter's attorney was not available for comment.

*This article has been updated to reflect Jason Porter was convicted of 52 counts, not 58