NILES, Ill. (CBS) — The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago issued an urgent warning to parents Thursday, after a man now under indictment on child pornography charges was accused of taking surreptitious video, and inappropriately touching boys, in local YMCA locker rooms.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the YMCA reported in a notice to all members that a former Y member – Michael Porter, 55 – is charged in a criminal indictment with producing, receiving, and possessing child pornography.
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Records indicate that Porter has not been an active YMCA member in a year. But the Y said for 14 years, from 2006 until March 2020 when YMCA facilities had to close due to COVID-19, he visited three YMCA locations – the South Side YMCA, at 6330 S. Stony Island Ave. in the Woodlawn neighborhood; the High Ridge YMCA, at 2424 W. Touhy Ave. in the West Rogers Park neighborhood, and the Leaning Tower YMCA, at 6300 W. Touhy Ave. in north suburban Niles.
The High Ridge and Leaning Tower YMCAs have since closed permanently. But as the Y noted, the allegations go back years.
“We are disgusted and deeply saddened by these allegations. Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of everyone who enters our doors, most especially children,” YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago President and Chief Executive Officer Dorri McWhorter wrote in the notice. “As such, the YMCA makes every possible effort to identify and prevent child abuse and neglect.
The Y checks all its members’ names and information against the National Sex Offender Database, and no red flags were found before the current criminal case was filed against Porter, the Y said.
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But the Y said federal authorities told them Porter used concealed cameras to videotape boys in YMCA locker rooms surreptitiously, and also touched boys inappropriately in locker rooms on two known occasions at one or more Y facilities.
Federal authorities said there is no evidence at this time that Porter distributed the videos he took surreptitiously, the Y said.
In a news release issued July 14, the U.S. Attorney’s office claimed Porter coerced several minors into engaging in sexually explicit contact – and also had four hard drives, a cellphone, and a laptop with pornographic images of a prepubescent minor and a minor under 12, federal prosecutors said.
The Y distributed its letter to everyone who visited the South Side, High Ridge, or Leaning Tower YMCA during the years mentioned. Anyone with information that may be relevant into the investigation, or who believes they or their family may have had contact with Porter, is asked to call the FBI at (800) CALL-FBI and mention the “Michael Porter – Chicago” matter.
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The Y reported it is cooperating fully with authorities in their investigation, and has also launched its own externally-led probe into the matter.