Sarasota clergyman sentenced to life in prison
SARASOTA COUNTY (SNN) - Bishop Henry Lee Porter Sr. was sentenced on Friday afternoon after a jury convicted him in June of two counts of Capital Sexual Battery upon a Child Less than 12 years of Age.
Judge Thomas Krug sentenced the 74 year old to two consecutive life sentences.
The case was investigated by the Sarasota Police Department and the trial was held at the Sarasota County Courthouse from June 20th to June 24th.
During the trial, five men testified how Porter sexually abused them when they were children.
The victims and their families were previously members of Porter’s church called the Westcoast Center for Human Development located in downtown Sarasota.
The jury heard how members of the church revered Porter and believed him to be God’s anointed one.
Porter used his position of religious authority to manipulate and groom children into sexual abuse.
Before this most recent investigation, law enforcement investigated Porter for child sexual abuse numerous times in the past dating back to the 1970s.
However, a case was never prosecutable because of statute of limitations restrictions.
Nevertheless, law enforcement has now spoken to dozens of men who disclosed to being sexually abused by Porter when they were children.
“Porter’s arrest over two years ago was an initial step toward justice. The jury’s verdict finding him guilty was the next. For decades, he used his high stature in our community as a religious leader to silence his victims. He created a cult-like atmosphere inside his church by indoctrinating hundreds in his congregation. I hope that today’s sentence brought closure to the dozens of children he has sexually abused in the past, and to our community as a whole,” said Prosecutor Ryan Felix.