Crime

Former Bradenton youth pastor faces voyeurism charges in Texas

A chaplain whose mother promised court officials in Bradenton in 2008 that her son would never again secretly videotape people undressing is under investigation in Granbury, Texas, on suspicion that he placed a hidden camera in a bathroom at a local nursing home, Granbury police said Tuesday.

Investigators also believe the camera may have been placed at other locations because it had photographs of people at other sites.

Granbury police arrested Matthew Christopher Porter, 33, of Granbury, after he was identified in one of the photos trying to adjust the camera. Porter, a volunteer associate pastor at The Church at Granbury, was a chaplain at the nursing home, police said.

“We are still actively trying to identify people in the photographs,” said Granbury police Capt. Alan Hines on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of photographs.

“There’s a possibility that some photos were taken at his home and the church,” Hines said.

Porter was arrested on Jan. 7 and released on Jan. 8 after posting $20,000 bail, according to Hood County Sheriff Department records.

Granbury is in north-central Texas, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Porter could not be reached Tuesday.

Pastor C.C. Risenhoover at The Church at Granbury said Porter is no longer associated with any churches or nursing homes. He referred all questions to Porter’s attorney, R. Shay Isham of Stephenville, Texas.

“I haven’t had an opportunity to go over any evidence with the district attorney’s office,” Isham said Tuesday. “I was made aware of some threats against Mr. Porter, and I will be enlisting the help of the DA’s office.”

The investigation began in late October when an employee at Harbor Lakes Plaza Nursing and Rehabilitation in Granbury found a hidden camera in a staff bathroom, according to Granbury police reports.

The employee reported it to Granbury police. The police department later turned over the camera to investigators with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, which assisted in the investigation.

Porter moved to Texas to live with his mother after being arrested for video voyeurism in Florida.

In July 2007, a house sitter in Parrish found tapes of Bible study students, ages 12 to 16, in Porter’s home, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. The recordings, which took place over a period of two years, showed the juveniles undressing and changing in the home.

The house sitter gave Manatee County Sheriff deputies consent to enter Porter’s home while he was in Mexico on a church trip. At the time, Porter was youth pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Manatee County.

In 2008, Porter pleaded no contest to nine counts of misdemeanor voyeurism.

Porter apologized during the plea agreement hearing and asked for forgiveness.

“This past year has been very difficult I know for the church and for me. I’ve wanted to say I’m sorry many times,” Porter said in that hearing.Prior to that, his mother, Jamye Porter, called her son compassionate.

“I know he loved those kids . . . He made a bad choice, and he’s not gonna do it again,” she said.

A music pastor at Gateway Community Church also told the Florida court that he had been counseling Porter weekly and had “no fear” that he would offend again.

"I think we have to have that hope," David Lee Humphrey said. Porter was sentenced to 120 days in the Manatee County jail to be followed by one-year probation.

If he had gone to trial, Porter faced a maximum of nine years in prison.

Conditions of Porter’s probation included sending an apology letter to the victims; having no unsolicited contact with the victims; not returning to youth ministry. In addition, he had to undergo psychological testing and participate in weekly counseling.

Porter was permitted to live in Texas while on probation.

He also had started volunteering at The Church at Granbury in August, officials said. He also had been a volunteer at Gateway Community Church in Granbury.

This report includes information from the Bradenton Herald.

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