OGDEN — At a sentencing hearing for a Morgan man found guilty of sexually abusing two children, a district judge tried to reassure the victims that what happened to them was not their fault.
“My words will never be enough to take away the pain or reduce the anxiety or fear you feel. But know you bear no responsibility whatsoever,” Judge Noel Hyde told the victims. “You're beautiful, individual people. Do not accept one iota of responsibility for the pain you feel.”
Jared Byron Hoopes, 38, appeared in the 2nd District Court of Ogden with his defense attorney, Richard Williams, for sentencing Tuesday, Dec. 12. Hoopes pleaded guilty to sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony; aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony; voyeurism, a third-degree felony; and five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, all second-degree felonies.
Judge Hyde sentenced Hoopes to serve 25 years to life in the Utah State Prison.
Weber County Deputy Attorney Letitia Toombs said one of the most telling signs that Hoopes has not taken responsibility for his crime was his readiness to blame the victim.
“It's something that most people cannot understand about predators. They try to turn their victims into co-conspirators,” Toombs said. “He tells the (pre-sentence investigator) that they began flirting. ‘She approached me.’ ‘We started kissing.’ This was a 12-year-old child. She didn't agree to anything.”
Hoopes was arrested Sept. 10, 2014, after being investigated by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a police agency headed by the Utah Attorney General's Office. A search warrant was served on his home in Morgan, which yielded digital media depicting child pornography, according to court records. Among the files were videos depicting Hoopes sexually abusing children, court records state.
“Beyond the two children in this case, the defendant continued to victimize children by creating demand, by downloading child pornography,” Toombs said.
In court, Hoopes expressed remorse for what he had done.
“True evil had engulfed me. I take responsibility for what I did,” Hoopes told the court. “I am ashamed and will forever will be sorry. I apologize to my family, for the grief and embarrassment I've caused them.”
Williams said his client has expressed sincere remorse ever since he was arrested, has fully cooperated with the investigation and does not have a prior criminal record.
The two children’s mother spoke to the court.
“Sure, he’s remorseful that he got caught. They're still suffering. This is a lifetime of horror for my children,” she said.
The children’s father also spoke.
“I'm dead inside, because they're my babies. There's no amount of justice that you can you do, no amount of counseling that can help people like this,” he said. “My daughter is screaming from the inside every day. For you Jared, it's just another day, buddy.”
Along with the prison sentence, Judge Hyde said Hoopes can never again have contact with the victims so they can feel safe and begin the process of healing and moving on with their lives.