A former Aspen resident was sentenced to 90 days in the Pitkin County Jail on Tuesday after pleading guilty in November to two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child.
In addition to the jail term, Aedan T. Hopper, 21, of Boulder, was ordered to participate in 10 years of a Colorado program called Sex Offender Intensive Supervised Probation, according to Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan.
Hopper — who was accused in late 2012 of soliciting child pornography and keeping it on his computer — will have to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years as well as adhere to the many conditions that apply to the program, which is designed to severely restrict a person’s activities.
He cannot have any contact with individuals 17 or younger, nor can he subscribe to any Internet sites, Bryan said. Colorado statutes consider any person younger than 18 a child.
“He has to permit probation officers to search his home and his computer at their discretion,” she said. “He also must continue with therapy. There are several conditions. It’s very strict.”
In exchange for the guilty pleas, other felony charges that Hopper faced were dismissed. Should Hopper, a 2010 Aspen High School graduate, fail to meet the program’s standards, he could receive prison time: two to six years on each count.
Hopper turned himself in to Aspen police in mid-December 2012 after a warrant was signed for his arrest. Hopper had previously admitted to an Aspen detective during an interview at his apartment in Boulder, where he was a college student, that he is a “pedophile” and a “social leper,” according to court filings.
Police first began investigating Hopper in November 2012. A juvenile investigator for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office learned from the Texas Department of Family Services/Crisis Intervention that a young girl had reached out to the agency’s website for victims of sex crimes, according to the application for the arrest warrant written by Aspen Police Detective Ian MacAyeal.
That tip prompted the juvenile investigator to obtain court authorization to collect Internet provider addresses and other records, which led him to locate Hopper’s home address in Aspen, the residence of his father. Soon they learned that Hopper had an apartment in Boulder, and a warrant was obtained to search it.
MacAyeal’s warrant application says that Hopper “induced” the victims “to expose parts of their bodies for Hopper’s own sexual gratification.” Hopper also admitted to MacAyeal that he is sexually attracted toward young children, MacAyeal wrote.
Bryan said the sentence handed down Tuesday by Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols provides “the best hope for keeping the community safe in the future, as opposed to prison, which would keep (Hopper) confined for a limited period of time without any treatment or supervision after the fact.”
Bryan said she, the court and the probation office struggled with whether prison would be appropriate in Hopper’s case.
“Nearly everyone came to the conclusion that he’s so young, we wanted to give him one opportunity to try to fix this,” she said. “It will be hard, of course, and it will be on his record forever.”