Former UK basketball player Michael Porter's case waived to grand jury

jkegley@herald-leader.comJune 4, 2012 

Sex abuse and sodomy charges against former University of Kentucky basketball player Michael Porter were waived to a grand jury Monday morning.

Members will review the evidence against Porter, 25, and choose whether to indict him. He has pleaded not guilty to six counts of sodomy and two counts of sexual assault in a case involving an underage girl he allegedly met through church. The charges are felonies.

Porter, wearing a gray suit and dark leather dress shoes, appeared in Fayette District Court flanked by his attorney, Jim Lowry.

Lowry asked Judge Megan Lake Thornton to waive the case to the grand jury without hearing testimony. The judge agreed to do so.

Porter said little during court, answering "Yes, ma'am" when Thornton asked whether he was willing to waive his right to a hearing. He also told her the address in Lexington where he will be staying.

Typically during preliminary hearings, a police officer will lay out his or her case against the accused in open court. Defense attorneys then may try to persuade a judge to reduce the charges.

Judges typically do not reduce felony charges.

Porter did not respond to requests for comment as he left the courtroom. He is out of jail on a third-party bond signed by Max Appel of Versailles, who was with him Monday.

The Southland Christian Church Web site lists Appel as a staff member. The church has said Porter used to be a volunteer there.

Porter was arrested May 15 after a sting operation by Lexington police yielded evidence that he had oral sex with a girl he met at church functions where he was a group leader, according to court documents.

When the former Wildcat was arrested by police at a home on Woodford Drive, he told officers he got involved in a relationship with the girl "because he was addicted to pornography," according to a search warrant filed in Fayette District Court.

Porter is accused of engaging in sexual activity with the girl in 2009 and 2010, when she was 14 and 15. The victim, who was not named in the warrant, is now 17. According to police reports, the sex acts took place about five months after Porter announced he was quitting the UK basketball team after three seasons.

According to the warrant, Lexington police were notified about the allegations May 10 by a police detective in Nicholasville, who said he had evidence that Porter "has been engaging in sexual activity" with the teen.

The warrant did not name the church where Porter met the girl, though Porter told the Herald-Leader in a 2009 interview that he and his wife, Bryana, were members of Southland Christian Church. The Porters have a daughter.

Chris Hahn, the lead executive pastor at Southland, said previously that the church would not discuss the case.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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