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Minister sentenced in child sex case

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Mike Heine
January 4, 2008
— Scott A. Hoppe paid special attention to the high school girl in his youth ministry classes at Grace Church in Burlington.

She was flattered.


She loved her minister, her teacher, as if he were an older brother.


But the feelings Hoppe had for the girl was more than just friendship. It turned into something adulterous, manipulative and illegal.


Starting in 2003, behind the back of his wife and their children, Hoppe had sex with the girl for years—at the church, in the classroom, at Hoppe’s home and at the girl’s home in Walworth County.


“He is not the Godly man we all thought he was,” the girl, now 20, said at Hoppe’s sentencing hearing Thursday. “Instead of upholding God’s word and acting rightly, he indulged himself in evil.”


Hoppe, now 33 and living in Woodstock, Ill., was sentenced to three years in prison and three years extended supervision for a felony charge of child enticement and a misdemeanor count of sex with a child over 16 years old. Eleven related felony and misdemeanor charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. He will register as a sex offender, Judge James Carlson ordered.


Multiple similar charges still are pending in Racine County.


The girl told the court how Hoppe manipulated her thoughts and outlook on life.


Despite his marriage and children, he made her believe their relationship was normal and the way God intended it to be.


He told the girl his marriage was a mistake and that he wished his wife were in a car accident so they could be together.


He told her she was a better mother to his children and that his kids could have been their children.


He taught her how to lie—every time he called, every time she was up late chatting with him on the Internet, every time he sent flowers or notes.


When the girl went to college, she said, she realized how wrong the relationship had been.


Hoppe grew afraid, she said. If he told her that if she exposed him, she’d be responsible for destroying their lives, the lives of their families and the church they both loved.


The girl told anyway, and Hoppe was arrested in late 2006.


“He not only stole my innocence, but years of my life,” she said.


And her faith in Christianity.


“I can’t trust the church that I loved so dearly,” she said. “When I stand at a church, now, I look up front and all I can see are liars, hypocrites and abusers.”


But Hoppe wasn’t the only one in the relationship, his attorney said.


The girl was 16 and 17 years old when the charged abuse happened. The consensual relationship continued when she was 18 and a freshman in college, defense attorney Larry Steen said.


“One thing that is apparent to me is 16-year-old females in our society are no puppets who are moved by strings,” Steen said.


The girl made decisions to keep the adulterous relationship, too, he said.


In the hundreds of e-mails sent between the two, the girl justified their actions because “they were happy and God must want this,” Steen said.


Hoppe didn’t blame the girl for the relationship. He said he was the adult in a position of trust, and he admitted he abused that.


“I did not mean to cause pain and damage, but I did cause it,” Hoppe said. “I was the one who lied, betrayed, manipulated and abused. I was the one who did those things.”



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