Aspen man faces charges of child pornography
ASPEN – An Aspen man who allegedly confessed to authorities that he kept child pornography on his computer is out of jail on $20,000 bond.
Court filings released Tuesday suggest that Aedan Teague Hopper, 20, solicited girls to provide him nude pictures and “engage in explicit sexual conduct for the making of sexually exploitative material.”
Hopper turned himself in to the Aspen Police Department on Monday after the agency issued a warrant for his arrest, which Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols signed Friday night. Hopper previously had admitted to an Aspen police detective, during a Dec. 9 interview at his apartment in Boulder, where he attends college, that he is a “pedophile” and a “social leper,” according to court filings.
Nichols advised Hopper on Monday night that he faces separate Class 3 and Class 6 felony charges of sexual exploitation of a child. Colorado statutes consider any person younger than 18 a child.
The Class 3 felony offense is one in which Hopper is accused of preparing and producing “any sexually exploitative material.” A conviction carries a prison term of four to 12 years. The Class 4 charge, in which Hopper is accused of possessing sexually exploitative material, carries one to 18 months of incarceration. If Hopper is convicted of either offense, he will be required to register as a sexual offender.
Also in place is a mandatory protection order that prohibits Hopper from having any contact with, as described in court papers, the “protected parties.” Hopper also was ordered to turn over his passport to authorities.
Details of the investigation are limited because of a court order, which Nichols signed Monday, that redacts all information in the case file that could lead to the identification of the victim or victims, including their ages and hometowns.
Members of the Aspen Police Department declined to discuss the case because of what department spokeswoman Blair Weyer called “sensitive information.” Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin also declined comment.
While details about the victims are not public, an application for an arrest warrant says that Hopper “induced” the victims “to expose parts of their bodies for Hopper’s own sexual gratification.”
Police began investigating Hopper last month. On Nov. 15, Bruce Benjamin, the 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 young victims of sex crimes, according to application for an arrest warrant, which was written by Aspen Police Detective Ian MacAyeal.
That tip prompted Benjamin to obtain court authorization to collect Internet provider addresses and other records, which led to him to locate Hopper’s home address in Aspen, which is the residence of his father, Sean Hopper, who is keyboardist and vocalist for Huey Lewis and the News.
On Nov. 30, MacAyeal learned that Aedan Hopper also had a Boulder address. MacAyeal, who worked with Boulder law-enforcement authorities, obtained a warrant to search Hopper’s Boulder home on Dec. 9. When MacAyeal visited Hopper’s home, Hopper allowed the detective in and waived his Miranda rights.
“In the context (of) child pornography, I asked Hopper if he had pictures of child pornography on his computer and he said ‘Yes,'” MacAyeal wrote in the arrest-warrant application. “He described files on his computer that are entitled ‘DDT’ and ’36.’ Hopper said these files contain images of child pornography.”
Hopper also admitted to MacAyeal that he is sexually attracted toward young children, MacAyeal wrote.
“He admitted he had been struggling with this ‘problem’ for some time. He referred to himself as a ‘pedophile’ and a ‘social leper.'”
During his interview with MacAyeal, Hopper asked questions about jail time, MacAyeal wrote.
“He was worried about going to prison and what they do to ‘pedophiles’ in prison. He asked ‘If I move out of the country, does this follow me?’ Based on these statements, I believe Hopper may attempt to flee the country to avoid prosecution,” MacAyeal wrote.
Hopper, who is a 2010 graduate of Aspen High School, is due back in court Jan. 7.
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