Accused molester to spend 8 years in prison; have all but one charge dropped
An accused child molester from Nevada City will spend eight years in prison, if a judge accepts a plea bargain reached with prosecutors.
Jerry Hopper, 50, of Nevada City, initially faced 12 counts of rape and molestation, three counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse to a child.
Hopper has pleaded “no contest” to one charge of molestation, and the other charges are expected to be dropped at sentencing. His trial, which has been canceled, was scheduled to start later this month.
Deputy District Attorney Chuck O’Rourke said it was in the prosecution’s best interest to agree to the plea deal for several reasons.
“It goes along with what the victim wanted,” O’Rourke said. “The victim did not have to testify. We saved her from further being traumatized.”
Hopper was arrested in July 2004, in Yreka, after he was accused of molesting a teenage girl during a period of several years. The arrest came one day after the allegations were reported and local law authorities issued a lookout warning across Northern California.
He was assumed to be heading for Yreka or Medford, Ore., and his description, as well as that of his vehicle, a green Ford F-250 pickup, were provided in the alert to law-enforcement agencies. Yreka police spotted Hopper’s truck in a driveway and took him into custody without incident.
O’Rourke said that most of the charges that will be dropped at sentencing would not have influenced the prison term, because they would have run at the same time, not back-to-back.
“We were trying to catch him from all angles,” O’Rourke said. “But we did file everything we thought we could prove.”
The conviction would also give Hopper a “strike” and would force him to register as a sex offender.
“If the defense tried to knock down (the sentence length) during sentencing, I can tell the judge that the deal is off,” O’Rourke said.
Hopper’s sentencing is scheduled for May 20.
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