Edgewater man gets 22 years for secretly recording YMCA locker room videos

CHICAGO — An Edgewater man has been sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for secretly recording thousands of naked boys inside YMCA locker rooms across the Chicago area.

Michael Porter surreptitiously recorded more than 2,200 videos over 20 years before investigators caught up with him in December 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago said in a press release on Friday.

“Porter placed a video-recording device inside of a bag and then strategically placed the bag on the floor of the locker rooms,” the release said. “Porter sexually abused at least one of the boys, capturing the abuse on video.”

“During the investigation law enforcement seized from Porter six recording devices, seven cameras, 30 USB drives, hundreds of cassette tapes and DVDs, and two laptops,” officials said. Investigators also found 46,562 images and 44,553 videos.

Porter, 58, pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges last year and received his sentence from Judge Sara Ellis this week. Ellis ordered him to pay $63,500 in restitution to his victims.

Last year, the FBI said Porter recorded videos at the High Ridge YMCA in West Ridge, Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles, and South Shore YMCA in Woodlawn.

Michael Porter | FBI

The FBI began looking at Porter in 2020 after a Philadelphia man was charged with distributing child pornography online. According to a federal complaint, investigators linked Porter to the East Coast case through internet, phone, online payment, and other records.

When agents searched Porter’s home, they “observed an office with an overabundance of unorganized personal items” that included an array of videotapes, discs, and cassettes, the complaint said.

Some of the recordings “contain what appeared to be surreptitiously recorded videos of a locker room, focusing on what appeared to be underage boys, some of which were nude,” an FBI agent wrote.

“In one of these videos, the individual physically resembling Porter is seen washing a prepubescent male child, lowering his shorts, and washing his” private areas, according to the 2020 complaint.

Agents also allegedly found receipts in Porter’s home from a “spy store” for a keychain DVR and miniature camera DVR.

Porter tried to get the federal charges thrown out, arguing that the locker room videos were not pornographic. U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman denied the motion in an opinion that included detailed descriptions of the videos’ content.

According to Guzman’s summaries, many of the recordings included sexual activity, and Porter’s face is seen in some footage.

In one ruse, Porter told children who were showering with their swim trunks on that they had to remove their trunks “due to the chlorine in the pool,” Guzman wrote.

Federal officials on Friday encouraged victims of sexual exploitation to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at www.missingkids.com or by calling 1-800-843-5678.

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