Police expect more victims in Porter abuse case
SARASOTA- An investigation ongoing since the 90’s, Sarasota Police finally able to make a case against a church leader after years of hearing of alleged abuse.
72-year-old Henry Lee Porter Sr., Founder and Bishop of Westcoast Center for Human Development, charged with one count of sexual battery of a child; after decades of investigation, and dozens of victims.
“This abuse went on for several years while the boy was a member of the church,” DiPino said. “And a student at the elementary school at the church.”
Former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins says it’s about time.
“This story has been running around this community for 40-50 years with this man,” Atkins said. “And nobody in power would process it.”
Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said in the past they’ve had statute of limitation restrictions, and limited victim testimony.
“There’s a difference between rumors, facts, and then evidence being able to take it to a jury and to a trial,” DiPino said. “And we needed to have facts and evidence, and we do in this case, and I’m confident we’ll be able to bring justice to the victims.”
DiPino says they owe a Debt of Gratitude to the 14 and counting additional victims who’ve come forward.
“To be able to come forward and be able to share some of the most devastating things that could happen to a young child or an individual,” DiPino said. “In these type of cases, and I’m proud of them.”
Sarasota Police believe more victims are out there… and encourage them to speak with police.
“Even if the statute of limitations has run out in their case,” DiPino said. “It’s important to bring credibility to all the victims, we also can provide resources to help them deal with what they’ve been dealing with, and also validate what they’ve experienced.”
The investigation is active and ongoing, and additional charges could come from speaking with more victims.