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Saturday, January 06, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Former pastor and youth minister faces sexual assault charges

Scott Hoppe told the Walworth County girl that God loved her.

But the girl told police that Hoppe, a former youth minister and assistant pastor at Grace Church in Burlington, had sex with her many times when she was between 15 and 17 years old.

Hoppe now faces multiple sexual assault and related charges in Walworth and Racine counties.

According to court documents, Hoppe told the girl, now 19, that he was not happy with his marriage and that was why God brought the girl into his life. He told her he wished "something would happen to his wife" so the two could be together, according to court records.

Hoppe, 32, had a sexual relationship with the girl beginning in April 2003, when she was 15 years old, according to court documents. The girl told police she and her family attended Grace Church since she was 11.

The two had sexual encounters at the church, at a school where youth groups were held, in Hoppe's home and at the girl's home in Walworth County, court documents said. The girl also used to baby-sit for Hoppe's children, according to the Racine County complaint.

Hoppe often would sneak into the girl's house through a bedroom window after her parents had gone to bed and the two would have sex, according to the criminal complaint filed in Walworth County. The two also watched pornographic movies together on the Internet, court records read.

In January 2004, Hoppe gave the girl a sapphire ring and told her if anything happened to his wife that he wanted to marry her, according to the Racine complaint.

The contacts occurred until the girl's 18th birthday in 2005.

Hoppe was "defrocked" by the church in November 2005 after the pastor heard of the allegations, the girl told police.

In Racine County, Hoppe faces 51 years in prison if convicted of 10 misdemeanor counts of sex with a child age 16 or older and felony charges of repeated sexual assault of a child and exposing a child to harmful material.

Hoppe faces more than 32 years in prison if convicted of four charges in Walworth County. The charges include child enticement and causing a child to view sexual activity, both felonies, and misdemeanor counts of sex with a child age 16 or older and indecent exposure. Fines could total $340,000.

Hoppe, who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., is free after posting a $100,000 bond. He has a pretrial conference on Jan. 12, in Racine County and a preliminary hearing Jan. 17 in Walworth County.

The girl had been in counseling for several months before she talked to police last summer, according to the Racine County complaint.