Family fights to prevent release of sex offender

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SALT LAKE CITY— One Utah family is trying to stop a convicted sex offender from leaving prison in a few months.

Michael Doporto has a lengthy criminal history that court documents show began in 1993 ranging from lewdness to child rape. A statement from the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole reads:

"Michael Doporto will be released from prison on Nov. 26, 2013, after 20 years of incarceration. He was convicted of one count of Sexual Abuse of a Child which has now expired. He also committed Sodomy on a Child which carries a sentence of 10 Years to Life. His sentencing guideline recommended he serve 14.5 years, so he will remain in prison 5.5 years longer than his guideline. In ordering this additional time, the Board recognized the heinous nature of these offenses and the impact suffered by the victims."

Doporto was convicted for sexual abuse of a child in 1998.

Phil Sherwood said Doporto raped his cousin, who was seven years old at the time, while she was at a sleepover with a friend who was a young relative of Doporto's.

"She's got a life sentence," Sherwood said. "Just because he gets let out after 18 years and it's over for him, it's not over for her."

Sherwood said his cousin, the victim, has an appointment Monday with a victim's advocate, to begin the process to have her say with regard to Doporto's release. Sherwood hopes her statement will keep him behind bars.

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Sherwood hit Facebook and set up a petition in hopes to keep Doporto behind bars, because he said he doesn't want other children to get hurt. It already has nearly 1,000 signatures.

Sherwood said his family never had a chance to voice their opinion during Doporto's last parole hearing in 2010. Former parole board member Keith Hamilton said information on parole hearings is sent to the victim's last known address before a hearing. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole stated the victims of record were notified before the 2010 hearing, but that one had moved so the letter was returned to their office.

Sherwood said his family is frustrated the board didn't work harder to find them, and they're now drafting a letter to appeal Doporto's release.

Hamilton said that's the right thing to do. He said they should alert the parole board that they did not have the opportunity to voice their concerns, and then the parole board would normally give them an opportunity either in writing or through another hearing. Doporto would also have a chance to respond.

She's got a life sentence. Just because he gets let out after 18 years and it's over for him, it's not over for her.

–Phil Sherwood

Meanwhile, the victim's mother, Traci Wakefield, said her daughter is now 32-years-old and has never been the same since the rape.

"Every once in a while, since we found out that he's getting out in November — that was just the breaking point — she's been in therapy and not doing well at all," Traci Wakefield said.

Sherwood said his family understands this is going to be an uphill battle, but it is one they are going to fight because he doesn't believe that these types of criminals can change their ways.

"Eventually, something triggers these guys; if it's stress, if it's whatever, something triggers them and they revert back to their old ways," Sherwood said.


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