Man suspected in Iowa City sex abuse case now accused of perjury

Authorities say man lied on his application for public defender

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A man accused of sexually abusing a girl in Iowa City faces a new felony charge of perjury after authorities determined he lied on his application for a court-appointed attorney.

Travis L. Porter, 45, of Osceola, was arrested Dec. 11, 2009 on allegations he molested a girl in Iowa City from the time she was 6 or 8 years old until she was 12 years old, ending in 2003, according to police reports. He has been charged with one count of second-degree sexual abuse and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

Porter, according to authorities, threatened the girl by saying he would harm her family members if she told them. On one occasion, police reported, the girl tried to stop him from touching her, and he grabbed her by the throat.

Porter denied the accusations in 2009, telling authorities he had been living in Arkansas, according to police reports.

According to a new police report made public Tuesday, records show that Porter owned a house at 1688 Burns Ave. in Iowa City at the time of his 2009 arrest. He owned the house, valued at $145,210, when he filled out his application for a court-appointed attorney on Dec. 12, 2009, according to the report.

And he was receiving $1,000 a month in rent from a tenant staying at the house, according to a lease, police reported. Porter, according to the complaint, didnít report the house or the rent revenue on his application for a public defender.

Perjury is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Gazette in late June reported that there is no systematic procedure in place in Iowa to verify that recipients of court-appointed counsel are being honest about their finances on the applications. The belief is that most applicants tell the truth about whether they have a job, how much money they earn and the value of their assets, but many times there is no one confirming that information.

There was concern among some people that the accused could be taking advantage of an indigent system that is mostly supported by taxpayers and already spread thin. The gap between what is spent on public defense and what accused offenders pay back is widening.

In the 2011 budget year, indigent defense services in Iowa cost $54.7 million, according to the Office of the State Public Defender. But the Iowa Judicial Branch received just $5.8 million in payments that year from accused offenders who used the stateís indigent resources.

Porter is on track to be tried later this month in Johnson County on the sexual abuse charges. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 23. If convicted on those charges, he could face up to 45 years in prison.

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