Victims and their families will get a chance to convince the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole to reverse its decision to release a child sex offender who has spent two decades in prison.
Michael Doporto, 64, is set to be released in November, a decision made by the board three years ago. But Monday, after hearing from victims, the board decided to hold an additional victim impact hearing at 3 p.m. on Oct. 10. The board will weigh any new information it receives including testimony from known and alleged new victims, as well as Doporto's supporters and re-evaluate its parole decision, said John Green, senior hearing officer. One key issue may be whether Doporto was truthful during a 2010 parole hearing when asked under oath how many children he abused.
Green said the decision to hold a new hearing is "not uncommon."
"Sometimes because of media coverage others come forward or a person is paroled and someone raises an issue and other people come forward," he said. "The board, in an attempt to make the most informed decision possible, will welcome input from other possible victims."
While the board sends hearing and decision notices to victims of record who keep current address information on file, it notifies other victims only if they sign up with the state's Victim Information Network (VINE) which was a surprise to one of Doporto's victims and her mother, who believed Doporto would never be released from prison.
Traci G. Wakefield's daughter was seven when she was molested by Doporto. Although he was found guilty in the case, the conviction was later overturned due to a procedural error during the trial. Doporto was subsequently charged and pleaded guilty in two new cases, one of which was consolidated with the Wakefield case.
Wakefield and her daughter both moved away from Utah some years ago and did not know about the VINE system. Wakefield launched an online petition objecting to Doporto's release three weeks ago; that petition now has more than 1,200 signatures.
"I never thought it would go as far as it did, but I had to take a chance," Wakefield said Tuesday. "We weren't even expecting to get [her daughter] an interview, let alone all the other victims. It's amazing."
The petition and media coverage of Doporto's pending release also has apparently led other victims to come forward or object they were not allowed to weigh in on the board's decision.
Those victims will have the opportunity to testify and share their stories under oath in October, Green said.
In 1999, Doporto was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on one count of second-degree felony sex abuse of a child and 10 years to life on one count of first-degree sodomy of a child. During a 2010 hearing, a parole hearing officer noted there were five other known victims and asked Doporto if there were others.
"No, sir," Doporto replied.
"If he lies and it can be proven, he can be brought up on additional felony charges of perjury," Green said Tuesday.
Doporto, formerly of East Carbon, completed an 18-month sex-offender program in prison and is set to be released under the strictest category of conditions. The board previously pointed out that Doporto has served 20 years far longer than the 14Â½ years called for under Utah's sentencing guidelines.