Judge upholds all 32 charges against Paso Robles man in molestation case

Jason Porter, charged with sexually molesting five children and secretly filming 13 other victims, sits in court for a pre-preliminary hearing in August 2016.
Jason Porter, charged with sexually molesting five children and secretly filming 13 other victims, sits in court for a pre-preliminary hearing in August 2016.

A San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge on Tuesday upheld all 32 charges filed against a Paso Robles man accused of sexually victimizing more than 40 people, including at least 18 children he is accused of physically molesting.

Jason Porter, 44, faces a host of charges including committing lewd acts with a child, oral copulation with a child, using a concealed camera, using a device to see through clothing, and possessing material depicting a child engaged in sexual acts.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The crimes were committed against victims as young as 2 years old between 2012 and 2016, according to a complaint filed by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

At the conclusion of a two-day preliminary hearing Tuesday morning, Judge Craig Van Rooyen found that enough probable cause exists to support each specific charge, and he ordered the case to go to trial.

Porter was first arrested last June after a woman on the 1000 block of Vista Grande Street in Paso Robles alleged that she caught Porter taking lewd photos of her daughter. As he was being released from jail after posting bail, investigators served a search warrant at the home he shared with his parents two blocks away on the 800 block of the same street. There, they allegedly found “thousands” of images and videos of children engaging in sexual acts, including some showing Porter molesting children, according to the county Sheriff’s Office.

On the stand Monday, a Paso Robles police detective testified that dozens of children — family friends, acquaintances and daughters of Porter’s coworkers — frequented the Porter home for pool parties, birthday parties and other activities. It was during those events that guests were filmed by Porter without their knowledge or consent.

Porter installed a concealed surveillance camera in the home’s bathroom, Paso Robles police Sgt. Christopher McGuire testified, and more than 5,000 videos were recovered from that camera alone.

When officers served a search warrant at the home, they found as many as 40,000 videos and images in several computers, cameras and storage devices that took investigators more than three months to review, McGuire testified.

Some of those time-stamped images and videos show Porter — identified by his voice, shorts and wristwatch — digitally penetrating or otherwise sexually molesting victims, many while they slept, McGuire said.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, Porter’s attorney, Steven Rice, asked McGuire whether someone could manipulate a camera to provide a fake time stamp.

“There’s actually no way for you to verify the time of any of these photos?” Rice asked.

“No, sir,” McGuire replied.

McGuire also testified that he could not recall the brand of watch that Porter allegedly wore in much of the footage. He said he couldn’t “say with 100 percent certainty” that Porter was the only person shooting all the footage. He said it was his experience from past child pornography cases, however, that the suspects usually don’t have accomplices.

“This is something they do on their own,” McGuire said.

Rice also questioned McGuire about one of the alleged victims initially changing her story in an interview with officers before later identifying Porter as the person who came into her bedroom as she slept and molested her.

“She was certain that Mr. Porter was the person who had done this to her,” McGuire said.

Porter remains in custody at County Jail in lieu of $7 million bail. He is scheduled to be re-arraigned April 24.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune