Former University of Kentucky basketball player Michael Porter pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of sodomy and sexual abuse with an underage girl he allegedly met through church.
Porter, flanked by his attorney, Jim Lowry, appeared before Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr. Lowry waived formal arraignment and entered the not-guilty plea on Porter's behalf.
Porter, 25, is free on a third-party bond signed by a staff member of Southland Christian Church in Jessamine County.
Porter was arrested May 15 after a sting operation by Lexington police yielded evidence that he'd had oral sex with a girl he met at functions at a church where he was a group leader, according to court documents.
The warrant for Porter did not name the church where Porter met the girl, although Porter told the Herald-Leader in a 2009 interview that he and his wife, Bryana, were members of Southland Christian Church.
During Thursday's hearing, Judge Ishmael said he wanted to state for the record that he has not attended Southland Christian Church since May 2010.
Ishmael said he has "no knowledge whatsoever" about youth programs at Southland and does not know anyone involved with youth programs there.
Ishmael's attendance at Southland has been brought up before.
In October 2010, the judge declined to step aside from a murder case after a defense attorney said the judge's attendance at Southland could influence jurors.
Kate Dunn, attorney for Glenn Rahan Doneghy, said the judge's church membership might influence jurors in Doneghy's trial in the death of Lexington Police officer Bryan Durman, who also had attended Southland.
Ishmael said at the time that he no longer attended Southland.
Lowry and Porter had no comment after they conferred privately after the arraignment.
Porter is scheduled to return to court for a status hearing on Oct. 26.