Paso Robles man convicted of 52 counts in child molestation case

Jason Robert Porter

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A San Luis Obispo County judge on Wednesday found a Paso Robles man guilty of 16 felonies and 36 misdemeanors for sexually abusing four children and videotaping three dozen other victims.

Jason Robert Porter, 49, faces the possibility of life in prison. However, Porter, who once represented himself in court and waived his right to a jury trial, is expected to appeal the verdict. 

Porter’s trial lasted six days, during which the defense did not call a single witness to testify and did not produce any evidence. Judge Barry LaBarbera watched numerous videos of Porter filming himself digitally penetrating and molesting children. In some of the videos, Porter’s face or penis appeared.

Additionally, an 11-year-old girl, who was 4 when victimized by Porter, testified during the trial. Porter molested the girl while she spent the night, sleeping alone in his son’s bed.

LaBarbera convicted Porter of felonies involving multiple sex crimes against four children and possession of child pornography. The judge also convicted Porter of 36 misdemeanor counts of unauthorized invasion of privacy. LaBarbera found Porter not guilty of a single count of production of child pornography.

As CalCoastNews first reported, more than a decade ago author Tina Swithin began battling to keep Porter, her former brother-in-law, away from her children. Swithin reported that Porter beat puppies, made out with a 14-year-old girl at a wedding and spoke of murdering and raping women. However, a social services evaluator dismissed her claims and asked the court to force Swithin to send her children to the Porter home for the holidays.

Officers arrested Porter in June 2016, after a woman found him taking lewd photographs of her 6-year-old daughter. Prosecutors charged Porter with 16 counts of lewd acts with a child, sexual penetration of a victim 10 years old or younger, possession of matter depicting a minor involved in sexual content and 41 misdemeanor counts of using a concealed camera to record a person’s undergarments. Some of the charges were later dropped.

Following the verdict, SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow released a statement praising the juvenile victim who testified and discussing the evidence presented in court. 

“We sincerely applaud the courage of the young survivor who testified and the tenacity of the law enforcement personnel who gathered and reviewed all of the evidence — including 324 electronic devices and more than four terabytes of cyber data to prove these horrible crimes,” Dow said. “These verdicts send a clear message that we will prosecute child sexual predators to the maximum extent of the law.”

Porter is facing a maximum sentence of more than 300 years to life in prison, according to the district attorney’s office. LaBarbera is scheduled to sentence Porter on June 28.

It appears, though, Porter’s strategy in the case has been to try to win on appeal. Previously, while representing himself in court, Porter filed motions claiming law enforcement, his prior public defender and the judge each violated his rights. Though represented at trial by attorney Jeffry Radding, Porter effectively did not mount a defense. 

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