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Sarasota, FL - Founder of Westcoast Center for Human Development Facing Several Allegations of Sexual Abuse

Westcoast Center for Human Development
Published: January 3, 2020
By: Joe LaFrance
Last Updated on December 11, 2020

Former Bishop Henry Lee Porter Sr. Charged with Sexual Assault on a Child

A man who once served as a bishop and also founded the Westcoast Center for Human Development church in Sarasota has been arrested on child sex abuse charges. 72-year-old Henry Lee Porter, Sr. was charged Thursday with sexual assault on a child under 12 years of age.

Sarasota Police started investigating Porter in October of last year for abuse allegations that date back to the 90s. At least three people have come forward with allegations that they were sexually abused by Porter in the 90s, when they were minors. Detectives say that they have also spoken with eight other males who have made similar allegations against Porter.

According to the alleged victims, most of the abuse happened at the Westcoast Center, in Porter's office, or at his home on 47th Street in Sarasota.

This is not the first time Porter has been accused of sexual abuse. Sarasota Police also noted in Porter's probable cause affidavit that he was also investigated for similar allegations in 1990 and in 2001-2002.

In the 2001-2002 case, an anonymous letter named 40 alleged victims. 20 of those alleged victims gave police statements regarding alleged sexual abuse at the Westcoast Center, on mission trips throughout the United States, and on other church-sponsored trips. However, the statute of limitations had already expired in this case, according to the police.

This investigation remains ongoing and Porter is being held without bail. Anyone with information or believes they were a victim has been urged to contact the Sarasota Police Department.

Michael Haggard Florida Lawyer
Hello, I’m attorney Michael Haggard. I am licensed to practice law in Florida. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance, I’d be happy to speak with you. Call me on the number below. It costs nothing, and it would be my honor to help you.
(888) 997-3792

Justice For Victims of Church Sexual Abuse

Attorney Michael Haggard represents victims of sexual assault in civil lawsuits. Here are some thoughts from Michael on the legal rights of survivors of sexual abuse in churches and other religious organizations:

Our team of sexual assault victims lawyers has tragically seen far too many cases of sexual predators who were close to their victims and in positions of trust and authority. We regularly see cases involving religious clergy members abusing members of their organization. Many survivors of this type of abuse have begun coming forward and taking legal action against their abusers and the religious organizations that have failed to keep them safe.

Churches and other religious organizations have an obligation to make sure their followers are safe from reasonably preventable dangers, including sexual abuse. Some cases of church sex abuse happen due to negligence by the organization, such as hiring a clergy member with a history of sexual abuse.

In cases of negligence, victims may have grounds for a lawsuit against the church, their abuser, or both parties.

If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse in a church or another religious organization, you can learn more about your legal rights in a free consultation with our experienced sexual assault victims lawyers.


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About the Author
Joe LaFrance
About Joe LaFrance
Editor: Joe is a content writer with a focus on the legal field. He covers cases of sexual abuse, drunk driving, and preventable violent crime for the Legal Herald. Contact Joe: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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