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Courts / Law

Another Child Sex Assault Charge For Former Sarasota Bishop

Westcoast Center for Human Development Church with Henry Porter mugshot inset
Henry Porter (inset) founded the Westcoast Center for Human Development Church in 1971 and led it until 2016. Police say he was still active in the church and led a service there as recently as two months ago.

A man who led a Sarasota church for more than 40 years has been charged with an additional count of sexual battery of a child under 12. Police say the second charge stems from abuse a victim says took place between April and November 1990. 

Allegations against 72-year old Henry Porter stretch back decades but Sarasota police say the statute of limitations and witnesses' reluctance to testify were obstacles to an arrest. Earlier this month, the former bishop of the church he named the Westcoast Center for Human Development was arrested after one of his alleged victims posted a video on Facebook in which he talked about being molested.

Porter was first arrested on January 2. At the time, police encouraged other potential victims to reach out to law enforcement. Detectives say testimony from other potential victims reveal that they are all males and were between 10- and 14-years-old when they say their former church leader sexually assaulted them. 

Porter remains in custody at the Sarasota County Jail.

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