Virginia man’s bond reduced in kidnapping case involving 12-year-old Bethesda girl -- Gazette.Net



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A Virginia man’s defense attorneys challenged the child sex abuse and kidnapping charges made against him last month, calling the charges “completely unfounded” during a bond review Tuesday in Montgomery County District Court.

Nathan Samuel Portnoy, a 23-year-old National Guardsman and Iraq combat veteran, was arrested Aug. 25 and charged with two counts of first-degree assault and one count each of kidnapping of a child under 16 and the sexual solicitation of a minor, police said. Portnoy was being held on a $1 million bond but the amount was dropped to $300,000 after Judge William G. Simmons sided with Paul F. Kemp, Portnoy’s private defense attorney, at Tuesday’s hearing.

“[The police’s] charging documents, if you read through them, affirmatively demonstrate that there was no kidnapping in this case,” Kemp told Simmons. “… Furthermore, there was no sexual contact whatsoever; we suggest to the court that there is no valid charge.”

More than a dozen of Portnoy’s family members, friends and supporters, including his mother, who has been relying on Portnoy after having a mastectomy earlier this year, and his father, a captain in the Marine Corps, were present in court Tuesday, but none of them testified before the judge. Portnoy’s mother declined to comment after the hearing.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Hall argued that Portnoy, of the 2100 block of Emilys Lane in Falls Church, Va., met the victim, a 12-year-old Bethesda girl, through an online social network and agreed to meet with her to have sex.

On Aug. 24, Portnoy met the girl near her home in the 7100 block of Loch Lomond Drive and took her for a ride in his 1993 Jeep Cherokee to a nearby park, Hall said. The two played soccer briefly, and then Portnoy took the girl into a secluded, wooded area near the park and engaged in “some type of sexual activity” with her, Hall said.

Portnoy then suggested they go get dinner, according to Hall. At that point, the victim’s mother called and told her to come home and, after dropping her off near her home, Portnoy began to flee from the victim’s sister and her sister’s boyfriend, who had spotted him with the victim, Hall said.

According to police, Portnoy pointed a handgun out his vehicle window and threatened his pursuers, who drove back to where he had let out the victim. After giving police a description of Portnoy’s vehicle and his license plate number, police tracked him to his home and arrested him, the charging documents state.

Police searched Portnoy’s Jeep and located, among other things, a ski mask, zip-ties, a handgun and six loaded magazines, Hall told Simmons, arguing that Portnoy intended to kidnap the girl.

“The state’s concerns are the age of the victim and the items that were found in [Portnoy’s] car pursuant to a search warrant,” she said, further denying Kemp’s claims that Portnoy had not realized the victim was under 18 until they met in person.

Kemp argued that no sexual contact took place, saying instead that the victim had several times before their meeting presented herself as at least 20 years old and claimed she was in the military. Kemp also said that Portnoy was acting in self defense when he pulled the gun on the victim’s sister and her boyfriend, who Kemp said were chasing and threatening him.

“He was trying to get away from these people who had verbally threatened to kill him,” Kemp told Simmons.

Kemp was pleased with Simmons’ revision of the bail amount, adding that he was anticipating seeing Portnoy’s name cleared in court at trial.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, speaking at a press conference after the hearing Tuesday, said his office will aggressively pursue a conviction in the case, in spite of Portnoy’s claims that he did not know the victim’s age and denials that he touched her.

“The allegation that ‘I didn’t know her age,’ or that it was misrepresented is not uncommon to our office,” he said.

jarias@gazette.net