Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 5:43 PM
By: Lawrence Budd - Staff Writer
— A Butler County man was sentenced on Thursday to 4 ½ years in prison for unlawful sexual conduct with a boy less than a quarter his age and illegal use of the boy “in nudity oriented material” in Warren County.
John Hopkins, 61, of West Chester Twp., was also classified a Tier II sex offender, required to register twice a year for the next 25 years.
Judge Robert Peeler sentenced Hopkins after rejecting his lawyer’s motion to set aside a plea bargain and set the case for trial in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
The judge said such crimes against children were often found to be key triggers leading to drug addiction or mental health problems.
“These are the kinds of acts that can scar a child for life,” Peeler said.
Lawyer Jeffrey Meadows motioned for a trial after the victim’s mother called for a maximum sentence, and submitted a bill for more than $1,000 for counseling fees, and a prosecutor, queried by the judge for a sentencing recommendation, called for 5 years in prison or “even more.”
Hopkins has been in jail since his arrest in March in the Lebanon Junior High School parking lot, where he was to meet the boy whom he came to know through an App called Grindr, where men seeking men contact each other.
Instead, he was arrested by a Lebanon detective who began communicating with Hopkins. The arrest happened after Hopkins and the boy had sex multiple times after Hopkins picked him up at his home, according to statements during the hearing.
Meadows urged Peeler to put Hopkins on probation, pointing out he had no record of sex offenses and a criminal record limited to three drunk-driving convictions. He also said the offense was less serious since the boy was willingly communicating with men seeking men and had been turned down twice by Hopkins after he realized the boy’s true age.
The boy’s mother urged Peeler to imprison Hopkins for as long as possible, discounted claims this was Hopkins’ first time engaging with sex with under-age boys.
“You were just caught this time,” said the mother who is not identified to protect the identity of the victim.
Assistant County Prosecutor Chris Delnicki charged Hopkins had preyed on the boy and called for at least 5 years of prison time.
Hopkins apologized and expressed hope the boy and his family would forgive him “as I have also asked my savior and lord, Jesus Christ.”