Dalton man sentenced for molesting child
DALTON, Ga. —
A jury in Whitfield County found a Dalton man guilty of child molestation on Thursday of molesting a child.
41-year-old Lebron Keith Hooper will have to serve 30 years in prison before he's up for parole.
The trial for Hooper began on Tuesday, in the courtroom of Senior Superior Court Judge Jack Partain.
In July of 2016, the then 10-year-old victim told her parents that Hooper was sodomizing her. Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston says in fear, the child had waited several months before reporting the incident.
Detective Daniel Jones began investigating the case, but due to the nature of the crime and the time lapse between the act and the report, Poston says there was no physical evidence or DNA.
Detective Jones did discover evidence the Defendant had been searching for pornography depicting children engaged in sexual acts with adults in May of 2016.
During the investigation, Detective Jones was able to locate and interview three other victims of Hooper. Two reported that in separate incidents just over twenty years ago, Hooper had raped them. Each of the victims testified at trial.
A third victim testified that when she was nine years old, and Hooper was twenty-seven, he began molesting her. He began by touching her inappropriately, and over a period of several years, his behavior progressed until he raped and sodomized her.
None of the prior victims told law enforcement about their abuse, because they were afraid of retribution from friends and family members and a concern they would not be believed.
After the investigation had been closed, an inmate who had roomed with Hooper at the Whitfield County Jail approached Detective Jones and told him Hooper had been talking about and admitting his acts against the child. The inmate did not receive any consideration for his information and testified at Hooper's trial.
Hooper was charged with two counts aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, and cruelty to children in the first degree, for offenses committed against a child when she was between the ages of nine and ten.
The jury deliberated for an hour and twelve minutes before returned a guilty verdict on all four counts in the indictment.
Judge Partain sentenced Hooper to three life sentences to run concurrently for the two aggravated sodomy and the aggravated child molestation. Judge Partain also sentenced Hooper to the maximum of twenty years to serve for the cruelty to children in the first degree. Poston says that sentence will run concurrent with his life sentences.
Poston says crimes against children which leave behind no physical evidence are some of the most difficult cases to prosecute. He says without Detective Jones’ comprehensive investigation and the willingness of other victims to come forward, face the Defendant and testify, it would have been much more difficult to bring Hooper to justice.