At parole hearing, victims of sex abuser warn he is still a threat
Draper • The young woman wept quietly as she listened to other victims of a Utah child molester recount the damage done so many years ago.
But when it was her turn, the woman's voice was strong and firm and she spoke directly to Michael Doporto.
"All I've got to say to you, Michael Doporto, is I'm a survivor. I'm no longer your victim," she said. "I'm a survivor."
The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole held a victim impact hearing Thursday at the Utah State Prison to allow some of Doporto's victims to voice their concerns about his scheduled release on Nov. 26. The board set the hearing after Traci Wakefield, mother of victim Azure Wakefield Davis, gathered thousands of signatures on an online petition protesting the decision to parole Doporto.
The Salt Lake Tribune does not usually identify sex crime victims, but Azure Davis requested that her name not be withheld.
Wakefield and Davis no longer live in Utah and were not aware of and invited to attend Doporto's 2010 hearing, after which the board set his parole date.
Now 64, Doporto has spent two decades in prison. He was convicted in December 1993 of first-degree sodomy of a child and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. That sentence was later overturned by the Utah Supreme Court because the trial judge allowed improper witness testimony.
Doporto was freed for a short time, but new charges were filed against him. In 1999, he pleaded guilty in two cases and received two sentences: 1 to 15 years, with credit for about 3Â½ years already served, and 10 years to life. Sentencing guidelines used by the board called for Doporto to serve a term of about 14Â½ years.
There are two victims of record, according to the board, though Doporto has acknowledged abusing other girls.
While in prison, Doporto completed sex offender and mental health treatment; as a condition of his parole, the board has ordered more intensive treatment and set strict conditions aimed at prohibiting his access to young children.
But the victims and their families say Doporto is a "sick predator" who should spend the rest of his life in prison. They packed the small hearing room at the prison; some had to wait outside.
Most of the five victims recounted how their lives were destroyed after they were sexually abused by Doporto, who then lived in Carbon County. The women were between the ages of 4 and 11 when the abuse occurred, often during family gatherings or sleepovers with his daughter between 1984 to 1993.
One said she was 11 years old when her life changed forever.
"He stole my innocence and he hurt my body so bad that I prayed to God to die," the woman said. She struggles with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder and stress-related physical ailments. The woman said she doesn't trust men, and feels ugly and undeserving of love.
"I have a life sentence," she said as Doporto sat listening, his head bowed. "I fear if he is let out, I will not feel safe anymore."
Another woman said Doporto molested her repeatedly when she was between the ages of 4 and 11.
"Every time it was over, he would tell me he was sorry" and that it wouldn't happen again, she said. But it did.
"He doesn't deserve to get out," the woman said. "He's sick. This sick person belongs in his cell."
A fourth victim said that Doporto threatened to let pit bulls eat her if she told anyone what he had done. He also said she would never see her parents again if she spoke out.
She kept quiet and the abuse continued.
"If you let him out, the victims behind me are not going to know how to move on," she said. "When I close my eyes, he's going to be there. ... This world is not safe with him."
Davis, 32, said she suffers nightmares, flashbacks, deep depression and anxiety because of the abuse she suffered at age 7.
"My life has never been the same, and it will continue that way," she said, weeping as she spoke. "I beg you. Don't let him out. I beg you, please. I don't want him to hurt any more children."
As he did at his hearing in 2010, Doporto, addressing his remarks to one victim in particular, apologized for his behavior.
"I truly wish I had never hurt you or any other of my victims," he said.
Doporto said he had read the letters sent to the board, some suggesting he either be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.
"Make no mistake," he said. "I wish I was dead."
But even if that were so, their pain would not go away, Doporto said. He asked his victims to not blame his family, saying "It was me that hurt you."
Doporto said he hoped the day would come when they no longer focused on or feared him.
"I'll never know peace for what I've done to you and the other children," he said. "It will haunt me forever."
In response to a question from hearing officer Jim Hatch, Doporto said he would be willing to be paroled to a halfway house for additional sex-offender treatment if required by the board. The board could decide to keep the current release date, extend it out or revoke it altogether.
Doporto, who is hard of hearing, answered awkwardly moments later when asked if he posed a threat to children, saying, "Not at this time, no sir," before adding that a family member would supervise him at all times if children were around.
Tennille MacLean, 38, a victim who also agreed to be identified after the hearing, said Doporto's apology was "the most disgusting thing ever."
As the victims and their supporters hugged and took photos, Traci Wakefield said she was happy with the outcome.
"I felt the victims did an awesome job," she said. "They got their points across. They were able to be heard for the first time."
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Adam and Marcus Doporto, sons of Michael Doporto, also attended Thursday's hearing. As victims and their supporters cleared the hearing room, Adam Doporto addressed his father, telling him their mother who some victims said knew of the abuse had stayed away because of threats she had received.
Adam Doporto also said it was clear his father had not understood a hearing officer's question about whether he was a threat to children and said, "We know you've got to continue getting help."
"We're not condoning or defending our father's actions in any way," Adam Doporto said, adding that the family plans intensive counseling once he is released.
Like the victims, he said, "Our family is still grieving."