Crime

Ex-Old Mission School vice principal responds after son’s molestation arrest

Jason Robert Porter, 44, of Paso Robles, is the son of former Old Mission Catholic School vice principal Margaret Porter, who was terminated from her job Tuesday.
Jason Robert Porter, 44, of Paso Robles, is the son of former Old Mission Catholic School vice principal Margaret Porter, who was terminated from her job Tuesday. Courtesy of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office

The mother of a Paso Robles man accused of molesting 18 young children spoke out Friday, days after she lost her job as vice principal of a San Luis Obispo Catholic school, claiming that she was not aware of accusations against her son.

“Had Jason displayed behavior that would have led me to think him capable of hurting children, I would have turned him in myself,” Margaret Porter of Paso Robles wrote in an email Friday. She also castigated “the local blogosphere” for its treatment of her after her adult son’s arrest.

Jason Robert Porter, 44, was arrested in June and then arrested again last month on suspicion of molesting 18 children and creating and possessing child pornography. The criminal complaint filed July 19 by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office lists 18 children ranging in age from 1 to 10 years old.

Porter has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges and remains in San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $7 million bail. He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing Monday.

On Tuesday, Tina Ballantyne, principal of Old Mission Catholic School in San Luis Obispo, sent an email to parents of students there, saying Margaret Porter would no longer be employed at the school, where she has been vice principal since June 2015.

“Dear OMS families,” Ballantyne’s email states, “As a result of the unfortunate legal proceedings involving the adult son of Margaret Porter, it has been decided that, in the best interests of Old Mission School, Ms. Porter will no longer be employed at OMS.”

Ballantyne did not return requests for comment, and an administrator who answered the office phone said Ballantyne was on vacation.

Her email to parents did not say whether Margaret Porter resigned or was terminated, but Porter said Friday that she was fired.

Much of the local blogosphere has judged me guilty simply for being the mother of a 44-year-old son whom I love dearly — a son who stands accused, but not convicted, of crimes against children.

Margaret Porter

Porter said she worked at the school from 1981 to 1989 as a second-grade teacher. She then moved to Saudi Arabia, she said, where she worked for International Schools Group, before returning to Old Mission in June.

Her son was first arrested June 23 after an incident outside a home on the 1000 block of Vista Grande Street in Paso Robles in which a woman said she caught him taking lewd photos of her daughter.

Jason Porter was released after posting bail, but Paso Robles police then served a search warrant at the house he shared with his parents, Margaret and Lyle Porter, on the 800 block of Vista Grande. Investigators allegedly found “thousands” of images and videos of children engaging in sexual acts, including some showing Jason Porter molesting children, leading to his second arrest.

No charges have been filed against Margaret or Lyle Porter.

On Friday, Margaret Porter write in an email to The Tribune that as an educator, she is “outraged and heartbroken” by child abuse.

“That my own son now stands accused of committing crimes against children shocks me to the core. Our family has been devastated by these allegations.

“Unfortunately, both wild accusations against me on the internet and negative publicity surrounding the charges against my son have damaged me personally and professionally. I have not been charged with any crime, nor have others in our family and community who saw Jason on a regular basis and did not suspect him of harming children.

“ … Further, while my husband and I have shared a home with Jason and his family, for the majority of that time, I was living and working overseas except for holidays. It is only in the last year that I have lived here full-time, and even then our living quarters are separate, and private from one another.

“I will not comment on the Diocese of Monterey’s decision to terminate my employment except to say that I love Old Mission School and can only believe that in letting me go, the Diocese is acting in what they consider to be the best interests of the safety of the children at the school.

“If the accusations against my son are true, then my heart breaks for the victims and their families. That said, it astonishes and saddens me that while under the laws of this country my adult son is considered innocent until proven guilty, much of the local blogosphere has judged me guilty simply for being the mother of a 44-year-old son whom I love dearly — a son who stands accused, but not convicted, of crimes against children.”

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