Granbury church figure accused of putting hidden camera in bathroom

A chaplain whose mother promised Florida court officials in 2008 that her son would never again secretly take photos of people undressing is under investigation in Granbury on suspicion that he placed a hidden camera in a bathroom at a local nursing home, Granbury police said Tuesday.

Investigators also believe the camera may have been placed at different locations based on other photographs.

Police say they arrested Matthew Christopher Porter, 33, of Granbury, after he was identified in one of the photos trying to adjust the camera. Porter, a volunteer associate pastor at The Church at Granbury, was a chaplain at the nursing home, police said.

"We are still actively trying to identify people in the photographs," police Capt. Alan Hines said Tuesday. "There's a lot of photographs. There's a possibility that some photos were taken at his home and the church."

Porter faces a felony charge of improper photography or visual recording, authorities said. Porter was arrested Jan. 7 and released Jan. 8 after posting $20,000 bail, according to Hood County Sheriff Department records.

Porter could not be reached Tuesday.

The Rev. C.C. Risenhoover at The Church at Granbury said Porter is no longer associated with any churches or nursing homes. In an e-mail, he said the church was not aware of the Florida accusations.

He referred other questions to Porter's attorney, R. Shay Isham of Stephenville.

"I haven't had an opportunity to go over any evidence with the district attorney's office," Isham said Tuesday. "I was made aware of some threats against Mr. Porter, and I will be enlisting the help of the DA's office."

Porter successfully completed his Florida probation, Isham said.

The investigation began in late October when an employee at Harbor Lakes Plaza Nursing and Rehabilitation in Granbury found a hidden camera in a staff bathroom, according to police reports.

The employee reported it to police. The department later turned the camera over to investigators with the Tarrant County district attorney's office, which assisted in the investigation.

Porter moved to Texas to live with his mother after being arrested for video voyeurism in Florida.

In July 2007, a housesitter in Florida found tapes of Bible study students, ages 12 to 16, in Porter's home, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. The recordings, which took place over a period of two years, showed the juveniles undressing and changing in the home.

The housesitter gave sheriff deputies consent to enter Porter's home while he was in Mexico on a church trip.

At the time, Porter was youth minister at Bethel Baptist Church in Manatee County.

In 2008, Porter pleaded no contest to nine counts of misdemeanor voyeurism.

During the plea agreement hearing, Porter asked for forgiveness.

"This past year has been very difficult I know for the church and for me. I've wanted to say I'm sorry many times," Porter said.

Before that, his mother, Jamye Porter, called her son compassionate.

"I know he loved those kids. ... He made a bad choice, and he's not going to do it again," she said.

A music minister at Gateway Community Church in Granbury also told the Florida court that he had been counseling Porter weekly and had "no fear" that he would offend again.

"I think we have to have that hope," David Lee Humphrey said.

Porter was sentenced to 120 days in the Manatee County Jail to be followed by one-year probation. If he had gone to trial, he would've faced up to nine years in prison.

Porter was permitted to live in Texas while on probation.

Humphrey, now an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Palestine, said Tuesday that he was devastated to learn of the new accusations against Porter. "I had no idea this was [a] deep problem," he said.

Humphrey said Porter showed no signs of problems as a teenager, attending Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury.

After his return to Texas, Porter volunteered at Gateway and The Church at Granbury but wasn't officially "voted on" as a chaplain, Humphrey said.

"We let him do that because he was in counseling at the same time," he said.

Humphrey now believes Porter lied to him about the circumstances of the Florida case. He said he has spoken to Porter since the new allegations were raised but didn't know whether Porter was remorseful.

"I don't know how a mind like that works since I've never had that problem," he said. "I don't think we can look and see how a mind like that works and a heart like that works."

Staff writer Darren Barbee contributed to this report, which includes material from the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald.