Man hailed as hero, now accused of soliciting sex from a juvenile

After the derecho storm, Nathan Portnoy talked with ABC7 about his efforts to save a man. Photo: ABC7

A man now accused of a crime, is the same man once credited with trying to save a life.

His neighbors tell us Nathan Portnoy, who performed CPR trying to save a man's life the night of the derecho, is the same Nathan Portnoy now accused of a crime: soliciting sex from a juvenile.

Neighbors are adamant that this does not sound like the man they know, someone so well liked. They held a July Fourth neighborhood event to honor him as a hero.

The night of the derecho the Iraq war veteran preformed CPR on Dylan Cooper, a Falls Church teen who was electrocuted in the storm. Despite Portnoy's efforts, Cooper later died.{ }

Wayne Heinrich of Falls Church says, "He cared enough to find someone lying in the road...under power lines...dragging him out and calling 911."

As for the charges Portnoy now faces, Montgomery County Police say for three months Portnoy communicated online with a 12-year-old who portrayed herself as a 21-year-old.

Investigators say Portnoy discussed having sex.

The two met at a park in Bethesda on August 24, near the girl's home.

Portnoy's attorney, Paul Kemp, says his client suspected she was younger than she indicated.

"He asked they go to dinner or get a drink, where she'd have to show an ID," Kemp explains.

She briefly got into his car. When she got out, she was spotted by family members, who followed the car and told police Portnoy pointed a gun at them.

He was arrested on August 25.

Police say in his car they found a loaded gun and ammo, handcuffs, zip ties, rope, a black ski mask, and boxes of condoms.

For most of the items, Portnoy's attorney says there is an explanation.

"Everything else was issued through the Army or was a gift of people from the Army...following his deployment in Iraq and Kuwait," Kemp says.

In his Falls Church community, neighbors say none of it makes sense. They describe him to ABC7 as well-liked.

They are skeptical of the charges and believe he may have been set up.

His neighbors say they will be in court to show their support for him.