“The alleged criminal activity in these indictments against these individuals are some of the most disgusting, perverse and repulsive acts that I’ve ever heard of in 32 years of law enforcement,” said Special Agent in Charge of the Cincinnati Field Office for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Chris Hoffman, during a recent press conference in Columbus. “Our hearts go out to all the victims in this case. Our hearts are broken over this investigation.”

The press conference in question was held Wednesday afternoon, June 24 and involved U.S. Attorney David DeVillers, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Special Agent Hoffman and Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier, among others. The purpose of this press conference and the subject of Special Agent Hoffman’s ire was the announcement of a federal grand jury returning an indictment against nine individuals on Tuesday, June 23 on charges related to a child sex-trafficking operation.

The man at the forefront of this indictment, Larry Dean Porter, 69, of Wheelersburg, allegedly exchanged drugs obtained in Columbus and elsewhere for sexual access to the children of drug-addicted mothers.

In March of this year, following an undercover operation pertaining to the human trafficking of an underage girl, Porter was taken into custody by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies in Oak Hill. At that time, authorities were able to arrange via Facebook a transaction with Porter, who had reportedly agreed to pay $80 for a sexual encounter with a seven-year-old girl. At approximately 7:36 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, Porter was arrested at McDonald’s in Oak Hill on suspicion of human trafficking. He was subsequently incarcerated at the Jackson County Correctional Facility on a $1 million bond, which was set by Jackson County Municipal Court Judge Mark Musick.

According to court documents unsealed Wednesday, agents with the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force began investigating Porter in April 2019 following reports from several sources that he was involved in sexually abusing both male and female minors with the consent of the minors’ parents in exchange for illegal drugs. Victims and sources in the ongoing investigation by the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) indicate Porter sexually abused children and produced child pornography kept on flash drives that Porter “used extreme methods to conceal.” He would reportedly give illegal narcotics, including heroin and opioids, to drug-addicted parents in exchange for sexual access to the minor victims, and allegedly also often instructed the parents to sexually abuse their own children and recorded those acts for use as blackmail.

“We often hear about cases where we see individuals commit heinous and cruel acts against children,” said U.S. Attorney DeVillers during Wednesday afternoon’s press conference. “More often than not, we see these as individual events – one person – something we can say is isolated. But, then there are some cases, sometimes, where we have groups, we have organizations, we have conspiracies of like-minded individuals who knowingly, willingly and consistently are committing these acts against children. Those are the cases that really question our confidence in humanity. This is one of those cases.”

U.S. Attorney DeVillers went on to say that this case began in 2013 and involves multiple victims, some as young as seven years old, though the complaint filed in the case indicates Porter at one point at least attempted to “babysit” a child who was two years of age. The complaint explains via information secured from a confidential informant that Porter often used the term “babysit” to “refer to the time he spent with children during which he sexually abused them or took sexually explicit images of them.”

“This case involves the rape and filming of these young girls starting in 2013 up through this year,” DeVillers stated. “Mr. Porter raped these young women, Mr. Porter filmed himself raping these young women and he was helped by other individuals.”

Another common theme discovered in reviewing the vast amount of information pertaining to this ongoing investigation is that of threats and intimidation tactics employed by Porter and his associates against potential whistleblowers. In the criminal complaint, it is stated that the investigation of Porter by the FBI that was initiated in April 2019 stalled following numerous initial interviews, as “additional witnesses could not be interviewed without risking that Porter would learn of the investigation.”

“In 2019, we got a tip from a brave tipster that got this investigation going,” said DeVillers during the press conference. “These individuals throughout the seven years of this conspiracy coerced, threatened and physically injured individuals they thought might cooperate, testify or provide information to the FBI.”

A direct example of alleged witness tampering can be found in the criminal complaint as well, when during the course of various recorded phone calls Porter made while incarcerated in April 2020 to his daughters Denna and Crystal, as well as his cousin Wayne Porter, he suggested the trio find ways to prevent a confidential informant from continuing to provide information to law enforcement. In a call to his cousin on April 13, 2020, Porter discusses that informant and tells Wayne to “Go out and make sure that idiot don’t do something.” Continuing on, Porter says, “If you have to, put a slug in that son-of-a-bitch.”

Following is a breakdown of each of the nine individuals indicted as well as the charges they face:

* Larry Dean Porter 69 of Wheelersburg, is charged in a 13-count indictment with conspiring to sex traffic children (15 years up to life in prison), attempting to sex traffic children (15 years up to life), producing child pornography (15 to 30 years), possessing child pornography (up to 10 years), conspiring to obstruct a child sex trafficking investigation (up to 25 years) and conspiring to witness tamper (up to 20 years).

* Denna Sue Porter, 32 of Wheelersburg, daughter of Dean, is charged with conspiring to obstruct a child sex trafficking investigation (up to 25 years), destroying or removing evidence (up to five years), and making false statements to law enforcement (up to eight years).

* Crystal D. Porter, 39 of Columbus, daughter of Dean, is charged with conspiring to obstruct a child sex trafficking investigation (up to 25 years), destroying or removing evidence (up to five years), and making false statements to law enforcement (up to eight years).

It is alleged that in the days immediately following Dean’s arrest in Jackson County, both of his daughters and two of his friends were seen making numerous trips to his residence and property, and were seen digging holes in the ground on the property. On March 20, 2020, officers and agents searched the area in which the daughters were seen digging. They discovered an SD memory card buried inside a glass jar. Court documents allege the memory card contained images of child pornography taken in Porter’s bedroom.

* Frank E. Andrews, 68 of Wheelersburg, is charged with conspiring to sex traffic children (15 years up to life in prison), possessing child pornography involving a prepubescent child (up to 20 years), conspiring to obstruct a child sex trafficking investigation (up to 25 years), and destroying or removing evidence (up to five years).

Agents recovered eight DVDs from Andrews’ residence that contained multiple videos of child pornography. Forensic evidence indicated the file titles match those on Porter’s computer.

* W. David Cole, 62 of Portsmouth, is charged with conspiring to sex traffic children (15 years up to life in prison), conspiring to obstruct a child sex trafficking investigation (up to 25 years), and destroying or removing evidence (up to five years).

Facebook messages allegedly show conversations between Cole and Porter discussing child sex-trafficking victims. Cole also allegedly removed and destroyed evidence from Porter’s home.

* Erroll “Wayne” Porter, Sr., 69 of Wheelersburg, is charged with conspiring to obstruct a child sex-trafficking investigation (up to 25 years), and conspiring to tamper witnesses (up to 20 years).

* Joshua David Aldridge, 36 of South Webster, is charged with conspiring to sex traffic children (15 years up to life in prison) and sex trafficking children (15 years up to life in prison).

 It is alleged that Aldridge transported minor victims to Porter’s home and received drugs from Porter in return.

* Charity Ann Rawlins, 41 of South Webster, and Ronnie L. Rawlins, 47 of Oak Hill, are also charged with conspiring to sex traffic children (15 years up to life in prison) and sex trafficking children (15 years up to life in prison).

The couple allegedly took a seven-year-old child to Porter’s residence on a regular basis to traffic the child sexually in exchange for pills. This alleged abuse occurred a few times per week for up to five years.

A number of other adult women allegedly involved in this conspiracy have been charged locally.

Despite the prosecution in this case having years’ worth of evidence and numerous victims, U.S. Attorney DeVillers said Wednesday he believes this indictment is just the tip of the iceberg.

“This investigation continues, and in a lot of ways, is just beginning,” he stated. “The main reason we’re here is to tell you that we have strong beliefs that there are additional victims. We’re asking those victims or anyone that has information on this sex-trafficking ring to come forward. We will protect these victims, we’ll provide services for these victims and we’ll provide justice for these victims.”

Special Agent Hoffman echoed that sentiment during his comments as well.

“Our victims’ services [providers] have been with these victims regularly since this investigation broke,” he said. “They’re here for the victims we have now and they’re here for the other victims we believe are out there. We want you to have the courage to stand with us and to fight for your justice.”

Further, Special Agent Hoffman addressed the fact that cases such as this, even for the most seasoned law enforcement officer, unavoidably appeal to raw human emotion.

“The men and women of the FBI are not robots,” he stated. “We’re husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and foster parents, and we’re absolutely heartbroken for these victims. The adults who should be protectors, taking care of children’s needs and guarding the most vulnerable, preyed upon them and enabled people to prey upon them.”

During his comments Wednesday, Ohio Attorney General Yost spoke of the unfortunate fact that human trafficking is becoming increasingly prevalent.

“Human trafficking is such a horrific crime that it’s hard to even believe that such a thing can occur in this day and age,” he said. “And yet, the more cases like this come to this building, the more we hear that it’s not isolated. It’s not limited to a particular socioeconomic group, or a particular geography, or particular culture; it’s everywhere. This happens in every neighborhood and we desperately need to change that. I hope that the people who are watching this story on television or reading about it in the newspapers will not let that shock of ‘something like this could happen’ pass without resolving to become involved.”

Following the press conference, Sheriff Frazier issued the following statement to The Telegram:

“I am very pleased with these indictments and very proud of my deputies and the part my deputies had in ending this child sex-trafficking operation,” he said. “Jackson County will not tolerate the actions of anyone who preys upon our children. We will hunt down those that abuse and take advantage of our children and our families. Children should not be placed in circumstances where they are in danger nor traded for drugs. We want to find justice for all of their victims. Porter is in federal custody at this time and is being held without bond. Please have the courage to come forward and fight for your justice by contacting my office or the FBI.”

Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact the FBI at 614-315-4923. As previously stated, authorities believe this case involves more victims than are currently known.

“Following the initial arrest, the FBI, along with our state and local partners, executed numerous search warrants, interviewed many witnesses and subjects to determine the level of this conspiracy,” said Special Agent Hoffman. “We believe the conspiracy is growing.”

The Telegram will provide follow-up information on this matter as it develops, and will soon delve deeper into its apparently far-reaching backstory, including a closer look at the 2014 book, Scioto County Dean Feed by Stephen C. Sparks.

Following is an excerpt from the book’s overview: “Scioto County Dean Feed is a graphic look at one of America's most prolific sexual predators of children. Dean has used the local drug task force to manipulate a community of poor rural Appalachian people in order to gain access to their children for sexual exploitation. Larry Dean Porter has molested dozens of little girls in rural Scioto County, Ohio over the past few decades.”

Sparks’ book tells of alleged firsthand encounters with Porter and his illegal undertakings, and carries a number of serious allegations against the likes of elected officials and even members of law enforcement.

David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost; Jackson County Sheriff Tedd E. Frazier; Jackson County Prosecutor Justin Lovett; Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini and Scioto County Prosecutor Shane A. Tieman announced the charges. Assistant United States Attorneys Heather A. Hill and Jessica W. Knight, as well as Special Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rausch, Legal Director of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Human Trafficking Initiative, are representing the United States in this case.

Criminal complaints and indictments merely contain allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.