Third life sentence for serial child molester | NevadaAppeal.com
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Third life sentence for serial child molester

by Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service
Shannon Litz/Nevada APPeal News Service James Hope makes a statement in Judge Michael Gibbons' court on Monday, March 31, during his sentencing.
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MINDEN – Serial child molester James Hope, who authorities said courted single mothers over the Internet to get to their young daughters, was sentenced Monday to a third, consecutive life sentence.

Hope, 43, a house painter and former Carson City police cadet, will not be eligible for parole for at least 24 years.

“The court can’t find a basis for leniency,” said District Judge Michael Gibbons. “The No. 1 objective is to protect the public.”

Gibbons’ referred to Hope’s two prior felony convictions in Washington and Carson City, the fact that he changed his identity to lure another victim, and eluded capture for two years before he was arrested.

“You are a repeat offender, you have caused significant harm, and the likelihood of rehabilitation is speculative,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons dismissed Hope’s claim that he had changed since spending the past 18 months locked up and that he could be a contributing member of society.

“Rehabilitation is not the primary concern,” Gibbons said. “The primary concern is that you can’t do this to anybody else. You are contributing to society by not making any more victims.”

Hope read a rambling, 25-minute statement in which he said he took responsibility for his actions. He also changed from an Alford plea to a guilty plea, a distinction he had to make before he is accepted for a prison program to determine if he is eligible for certification as a low-risk sex offender, the first step toward parole.

“I want healing and peace for the victims and the victim’s family,” Hope said. “I hope they can forgive me. I am not a bad person.”

If he is paroled in Washington, Hope will be brought to Nevada to serve a minimum of 10 years on the Carson City charge and 10 years on the Douglas County charge.

His Douglas County victim, now 13, testified Monday that she couldn’t understand how Hope could claim to be “a good guy.”

“I am glad to know I can save another little girl from the turmoil that has come into my life,” she said. “He might be sorry, but I don’t know if I believe it. If he was sorry, I don’t believe he would have done it.”

Gibbons thanked her for coming to court.

“You had the gumption to speak up and stop this,” he said. “I hope you know that none of this is your fault or your mother’s fault. It’s Mr. Hope’s fault.”

She was 10 when the incident occurred in 2004. Her mother had met Hope two weeks before, not knowing he was awaiting sentencing for molesting two little girls in Carson City in 2001.

Hope touched the victim and made sexually suggestive comments.

He pleaded guilty to lewdness with a child under 14.

The girl ran to wake her mother who yelled at Hope and he left the house.

She reported the incident to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Before deputies could arrest Hope, he went to Mexico, then Washington, where he committed a similar felony for which he is serving a life sentence.

The victim’s father and grandmother also testified, both saying they hope the defendant gets “some kind of justice” from his fellow inmates in prison.

“I will never forgive you for what you have done to all those children,” the grandmother said. “You are disgusting.”

The victim’s father called Hope “foul, stinking detritus on the bottom of my shoe.”

“You would absolutely do this again,” he said. “You’re a pedophile and a child molester. They should allow me and the other fathers to mete out our own justice. I wish you every dark thing. Enjoy your time in prison.”

Hope’s attorney, Matthew Ence, declined to comment after the sentencing.

In a memo to Gibbons, Ence said Hope “was not the monster he is portrayed as in the media and the (Parole and Probation) pre-sentence investigation.”

He described Hope as “troubled, but caring.”

Prosecutor Kris Brown said Hope got what he deserved.

“He deserves every day of that sentence,” she said.

Hope, who was transferred to Douglas County in July from Washington, was given credit for 265 days in custody.