Authorities in court Wednesday alleged Columbus music promoter Stevie Porter ran an “ongoing criminal enterprise” in which he invited teens to his Forrest Road home to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, watch pornography and have sex with each other while he photographed the debauchery.
Porter also rented motel rooms for such gatherings, said investigators, who believe the evidence so far shows Porter has been doing this for about 10 years.
Columbus Detectives Valerie Holder and Amanda Hogan described Porter’s conduct during a Superior Court hearing to set bond on four of the 10 charges Porter currently faces. Meanwhile police continue trying to identify some of the victims they’ve seen on images seized during a search of Porter’s 6832 Forrest Road home.
His charges so far are three counts of sexually exploiting children, two counts of child molestation, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count each of interfering with custody, invading privacy and possessing marijuana.
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On six of those charges, a Recorder’s Court judge had set bonds totaling $21,500 during Porter’s preliminary hearings. But on four charges he was being held without bond, prompting defense attorney Clark Adams to ask Judge William Rumer to set bonds on those, too.
Rumer agreed, as Wednesday’s hearing concluded, setting Porter’s bonds at $20,000 each for two counts of sexually exploiting children, $15,000 for child molestation and $1,000 for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. That brings the total to $77,500, not counting court fees.
A suspect typically pays a bonding company 10 percent to put up his bond, so Porter would need at least $7,750 to get out of jail, a prospect that frightens some victims’ families, said Assistant District Attorney Letitia Sikes.
Sikes was against granting Porter bonds, noting he six times since April 2006 has failed to attend court hearings he was summoned to, the most recent instance this past December. Because accounts of the juveniles’ conduct in Porter’s presence could cause a “high degree of shame,” Porter could use that as leverage to intimidate witnesses, she warned. She entreated Rumer to order Porter to have no contact, direct or indirect, with the victims or their families, or with minors in general. That ban includes any contact via social media or other online means, Rumer told Porter.
The investigation into Porter’s relationships with teenagers was triggered by Porter himself, when he reported Jan. 26 that he was beaten and robbed by seven or eight Carver High School students visiting his house.
Among them was a 17-year-old boy who reportedly found an explicit photo of himself on Porter’s cell phone. Porter told police the teen started asking “Are you gay?” before he and the other youths beat Porter with a tire iron and took his Toshiba laptop and cell phone, together valued at around $1,200.
Despite his reported beating, Porter had no visible injuries, Hogan said, but seemed extremely anxious to get his property back.
That property wound up in the possession of Columbus attorney Alfonza Whitaker, the brother of Chief Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker, after the teens who took it told him Porter had stored multiple sexually explicit images of minors on the devices. The gave the gear to Whitaker, who turned it over to police.
Detectives got a search warrant and began combing through Porter’s files. They also searched Porter’s home, finding images that matched some on his computer files, the detectives said.
A cascade of tips and allegations followed, investigators said. Two juveniles told police that Porter “runs a party house” where teenagers drink and smoke marijuana, Hogan said.
Hogan was tipped to a Dec. 7 missing person case in which Porter is alleged to have picked up a 14-year-old boy from home and taken him to Porter’s house.
Police questioned the boy, who told them Porter took him into a back room and told him to be quiet when police came looking for him. Later, Porter showed the boy a pornographic video and tried to persuade the youth to sleep in the same bed with him, investigators said.
Police arrested Porter Feb. 6. Detective Holder testified that while searching Porter’s home that Wednesday, police found a cassette tape on which Porter recorded himself naming a 17-year-old, the date and the boy’s age, before calling the teen and inviting him to drink, smoke marijuana and have oral sex.
On Feb. 11, investigators questioned that teen, who told them Porter picked him up that day and he spent that night at Porter’s home. He at first told them he never had sex at Porter’s house, but upon seeing explicit photos police had discovered, he admitted having had sex with two females and a friend in Porter’s residence. He also told police he was unaware Porter was photographing the encounter, Holder said.
The 17-year-old told detectives he’d been spending time with Porter for two or three years. Porter invited teens to his home to have sex and watch pornography, some of it homemade, Holder said.
She said Porter, 40, enticed young people partly by claiming he could make them famous in the music business.
Porter long has sought the media spotlight as a music promoter and mentor to young artists, and as a spokesman for people complaining about law enforcement.
He was the source of news reports on endeavors such as a September 1995 Youth Business Expo held at the 5548 Luna Drive office of Giving a Chance Enterprises, which Porter said he co-founded.
That same location in a story two weeks earlier was identified as Porter’s office for his Music Industry Advancement Network, which he said would mentor young artists and help them negotiate with recording companies. Porter said he also planned to start A&R Talent Exclusive, helping promote young artists in southwest Georgia.
According to his Columbus Musician Greenroom profile, Porter is the founder of Popular Beat Music Entertainment Worldwide, Fans Against Piracy Inc. and Music Roots Enterprises. He has hosted entertainment events in Columbus and Atlanta.
On Oct. 15, 2010, Porter acted as the spokesman for a family claiming their 17-year-old son was falsely accused in a Sept. 16 after-school brawl on the Fox Elementary School playground. The family claimed three of the teen’s relatives unjustly were arrested Sept. 23 outside his Columbus Recorder’s Court hearing, where deputies alleged they were harassing prosecution witnesses and fighting with deputies.
Claiming to be the founder of “Greater Columbus Copwatch,” a watchdog organization probing law enforcement misconduct, Porter demanded authorities dismiss all the charges and investigate the officers involved.
Holder and Hogan said they still are trying to identify other victims from images seized in the searches, and anyone with information that could aid their investigation may call the detective bureau at 706-653-3400.
Superior Court Judge William Rumer set the following bonds for charges Porter faces:
For two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, bond was set at $20,000 for each.
For child molestation, bond was set at $15,000
For contributing to the delinquency of a minor, bond was set for $1,000.
Before Wednesday's hearing, Porter had these bonds:
Child molestation charge- $5,000
Sexual exploitation of a child- $10,000
Invasion of privacy- $5,000
Interference with custody- $500
Possession of marijuana- $500
Contributing to delinquency of minor- $500
The total bond for all listed charges is $77,500.
Porter has pleaded not guilty to all charges.